ANNAPOLIS — A Maryland Senate panel will hold a hearing next month into a Motor Vehicle Administration computer error that has resulted in about 18,761 people not being properly registered to vote in this week’s primary, a state senator said Sunday.
State transportation and elections officials say no eligible voters will be denied the right to vote, though affected voters need to verify their voter registration information using the state elections board website, so they can use provisional ballots on Tuesday.
Sen. Joan Carter Conway said the Senate Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee will hold the hearing “to hold (Gov. Larry Hogan’s) team accountable for this mess, and to ensure it will not occur again on the eve of the general election.”
“It is an action by the Hogan administration which will confuse voters, suppress turnout, and disenfranchise thousands of Marylanders,” Conway, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the committee, said. “Even worse, it may impact the outcome of close races up and down the ballot.”
Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for the Republican governor, said the problem was caused by a computer glitch discovered on Friday.
“The Hogan administration takes the right to vote extremely seriously and no Maryland voter will be denied the franchise,” Chasse said. “Despite the Senator’s accusations, this was a computer programming error and nothing more. The State Board of Elections and the MVA have been straightforward and transparent about how this error occurred and what is being done to remedy it, so the Senator is either unaware of the facts or is choosing to ignore them for political purposes.”
State elections officials say the problem relates changes to voter addresses and party affiliation made through the MVA’s website or kiosks between April 22, 2017 and June 5, 2018. If the changes were made without buying a driver’s license, ID card or other item, they were not submitted to the elections board for processing.
Linda Lamone, the state elections administrator, said elections officials will send an email to about 17,600 affected voters who have an email address on file with the MVA. Voters are encouraged to verify their voter registration information using the state elections board’s voter look-up website. If the website doesn’t show the voter’s current address, a voter can use the board’s polling place locator to find the right voting location for the voter’s new address. The address shown in the polling place locator is where the voter should vote on Tuesday. Then, the voter can use the provisional voting process to cast a ballot on Tuesday.
“Our dedicated pollworkers have been thoroughly trained on this process and will be ready to help any affected voter on election day,” Lamone said in a statement. “No eligible voter will be denied the right to vote.”
Christine Nizer, the MVA administrator, said the MVA and the state elections board are working closely together to correct the issue to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“Individuals who may be impacted should go to the State Board of Elections website, elections.maryland.gov, to verify their voter registration information and, if necessary, determine their correct voting location,” Nizer said.