ANNAPOLIS – Linda Lamone is the Maryland Administrator of Elections for at least another three days, after an Anne Arundel Circuit judge Tuesday put a temporary hold on the Election Board’s decision to relieve her.
Last week, the board suspended Lamone for “incompetence, misconduct or other good cause,” a first step toward ousting her as state election’s chief.
Judge Ronald A. Silkworth’s restraining order states that the elections board “will not suspend Ms. Lamone, place her on administrative leave, or interfere with (her) access to her office and the staff of the State Board of Elections.”
The order lasts until Friday morning, when the court will hear further arguments by both sides.
Elections Board Chairman Gilles W. Burger left quickly after the judge’s decision, but said Robin Downs Colbert was still the acting elections administrator.
However, Jay P. Holland, Lamone’s attorney, says the judge’s decision means just the opposite.
“The order is clear on its face,” Holland said. “Lamone is to be elections administrator without interference.”
After the hearing, Lamone returned to work at the State Board of Elections’ office amid clapping, cheers – and some tears – by the staff.
Lamone said she was happy to be back at work, and that there was “a lot of work to get done between now and the election” in November.
Lamone is a Democratic holdover administrator in a Republican administration. Recently she has been under fire over the state’s purchase of Diebold touch-screen voting machines, which will debut statewide for the presidential election in November.
Critics have charged that the machines are vulnerable to hackers and won’t resolve balloting questions because totals cannot be checked through a paper trail. Last week, an Anne Arundel Circuit judge ruled in favor of the state and Lamone, saying the electronic machines did not need to leave paper records. The decision was appealed directly to the Maryland high court, which will hear it Sept. 14.
Lamone isn’t the only person left in limbo by the court’s temporary restraining order decision.
On Friday, the elections board named Colbert to replace Lamone, so she resigned her position as director for the Prince George’s County Board of Elections. She rescinded her resignation after the hearing and was back at work when reached by phone.
Colbert said she is content preparing for next week’s special council election for District 2 in Prince George’s County, even though she doesn’t know the status of her state job.
– 30 – CNS-9-7-04