Wednesday, September 13, 2006

MoCo Election Screwed Up

The Montgomery County Board of Elections office is right in my neighborhood. They share a building with a drug treatment center. Every election season, we see more and more cars over there each day until election day. And then we see the TV crews, the lights, the crowded parking lot.

Last night, driving by, it seemed to me there was more activity than usual.

Oh. I see.

Here's The Post:
UNTOLD NUMBERS of people were turned away from polling places yesterday in Montgomery County. The official responsible for their disenfranchisement called it "a clerical error." We call it gross incompetence that strikes at the very heart of our government. More than apologies are in order.

Election officials in Maryland's largest and richest jurisdiction, one that prides itself on a reputation for good service, forgot to deliver the computer cards that operate the voting machines. Confusion reigned. Some people were told they couldn't vote and should come back later. Others were given paper provisional ballots, but many precincts ran out of the forms. Communication was abysmal. Many voters who could not make a return trip were frustrated -- as were candidates who feared that the debacle could well make the difference in a close race. With important local, state and federal offices at stake, some were questioning the legitimacy of the election even before the polls closed. The Mess in Montgomery

Yeah man, they screwed it up. What can you say?

Somebody's job is to plan the election. It should be a big deal, you plan for two years for a task that basically takes a day to do. OK, let's say, with delivering the machines, training, stuff like that, maybe you spend a week or two actually doing something. Whatever, the basic steps are the same every time, it's routine, the task of voting is made to be as simple as possible so everybody can do it and there is nothing complicated in the counting.

But ... they forgot to deliver the computer cards?

I can't imagine how this happened. Tuesday morning, they're going down the checklist:
  • Coffee -- check
  • Doughnuts -- check
  • Unlock the building -- check
  • Plug in the machines -- check
  • ...

And they just left deliver the computer cards off the list?

I tend to synmpathize with bureaucrats who get caught up in the mess and end up taking the blame for something they had no control over. One day you're doing a heckuva job, and then you're fired.

But in this case, I'm struggling to find the sympathy. We pay our taxes, we expect a little something for it. Somebody is calling themselves the "Board of Elections," and is overseeing this simple, routine, and extremely crucial process of voting.

Mmm, maybe The Post will be nicer about it:
The county Board of Elections has one essential job -- to ensure fair elections -- and yesterday that job wasn't done. The system needs to be held to account. Board President Nancy H. Dacek has promised an investigation, but her standing has been so damaged that she must consider whether her continuance in office serves the public good. Election Director Margaret Jurgensen is paid $113,033 a year to run day-to-day operations; part of that must be telling the public exactly who and what went wrong and what the consequences and remedies are.

Check that out, these people are making Real Money doing this.

To them, I would say: bye-bye.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dacek is quoted in Washington Post as saying:

"We regret what happened this morning. It was just a fluke," Dacek said. "There was a glitch. It's now been taken care of."

A fluke...???? Next time bigtime checklist!!!!!!!!!

Going to be fallout over this.


September 13, 2006 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with TTF on this one. I had to return to the polling place four times yesterday and call the Board of Elections and get the head of the Board of Elections involved in a meeting to approve the election judge opening a "secret" envelope to let me vote, a process that usually takes five minutes. It's all because I showed up before they had their cards and they mistakenly changed me to a provisional voter in their computer after I told them I'd come back later. Very, like, third world, man.

September 13, 2006 11:25 AM  
Blogger andrear said...

Two days later- and Nancy Dacek still has her job??? I wrote to Doug Duncan and Gov. Ehrlich. I don't feel like someone who called this a glitch(Dacek) should still be in charge in November(or even tomorrow).

September 14, 2006 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

andrear said...
well than vote republican. the Gov tried to stop them the election board complained it was to much to fast logistical nightmare. the dems just did not care.

September 22, 2006 6:30 PM  

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