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Advocates Call Machine Counting of Ballots Faster, More Accurate

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022   

With the likelihood of a long wait for election results nationwide, Maryland's decision to pre-process mail-in ballots may pay dividends in the coming days.

As of last Sunday, the state reported mail-in ballot requests numbered more than 641,000.

While some in the nation are calling for the hand counting of ballots, Maryland's electronic scanners machine-count ballots at both the precinct and county levels.

Hannah Fried, executive director of All Voting is Local Action and a member of the National Task Force on Election Crises, said hand counting of ballots is prone to human error.

"It's really slow, and it's error-prone, right?" Fried asserted. "People make mistakes when they're counting a lot of ballots, right? There are better systems. Machine counting of ballots, as any election expert is going to tell you, that is the time-tested, battle-tested way to count ballots. "

Maryland's pre-processed mail-in ballot results will not be released until the polls close on Election Day.

The rise in mail-in balloting in the nation has changed how quickly votes are being counted with different states having different rules around when mail-in or absentee-ballot processing can begin. Fried noted we should get used to the idea close elections may delay results.

"A single county, even if it's small, if the margins are tight enough you may see election results get delayed significantly," Fried explained. "I want to say it's very important to normalize that election results can take more than just election-night reporting."

Following the general election, each local election board in Maryland will conduct a manual post-election tabulation audit.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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