A Maryland group seeking paper trails on touch-screen voting machines today sued the State Board of Elections to win the right to monitor polling places on Election Day.
The lawsuit, filed at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, also seeks the right for TrueVoteMD members to warn voters about possible problems with touch-screen voting machines while standing within 100 feet of Maryland polling places, traditionally a forbidden zone for candidates, campaigns and other groups.
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TrueVoteMD co-founder Linda Schade, a Takoma Park resident, said the group will "invite people to fill out a complaint form" if they report problems with the machines. TrueVoteMD is considering whether to file legal challenges to Maryland's election results if any voter complaints arise on Election Day.
Linda Lamone, the state's elections administrator, said allowing the group's members to talk to voters in that zone "would be improper."
"We felt that allowing them to do that would just create chaos and intimidate the voters," Lamone said.
Schade said that "We are not trying to influence how anyone votes. We are there to document the problems that voters experience."
She said TrueVoteMD received permission from the state attorney general's office on Oct. 5 to place hundreds of poll watchers inside voting locations throughout the state on Election Day. Poll watchers normally are limited to campaign representatives or groups that have issues on the ballots that day, but the attorney general's office made an exception to avoid litigation, said Assistant Attorney General Judith A. Armold.
The office revoked the agreement after discovering that TrueVoteMD members and volunteers planned to sue for the right to gather within 100 feet of the polling places to speak out against touch-screen voting.
Schade said exit pollers are allowed to talk to voters in that space, and that the law only forbids "campaigning and electioneering."
Armold declined to comment on other groups that would be allowed in that area. "We've always taken a very strict position on what can be done within the 100-foot zone," she said. "Even though it may not be electioneering for a particular person, [it] is not allowed within a 100-foot zone."