Early Voting Exceeds Expectations in Rockville

 

"Early voters" in 2015 came from throughout Rockville.

This heat map of “early voters” in 2015 shows where they lived in Rockville.

For the first time in over twenty years, the City of Rockville offered early voting for the  Mayor and Council election.  Over the weekend of October 24 and 25, 613 residents voted ahead of November 3rd’s Election Day–that’s nearly ten percent of the people who voted in the 2013 election. Saturday was slightly busier than Sunday, but Saturday’s numbers kept falling throughout the day.  The first hour of the first day of Early Voting was the busiest with 75 people and Council candidate Brigitta Mullican cast the first vote.

Early voting attracted residents from throughout the city, although there was a bit more activity from downtown and the West End, as can be seen in the heat map (blue being lowest to red being highest).  Neighborhoods much further away, such as Montrose, Falls Grove, Twinbrook, and King Farm, participated significantly as well.  Anecdotal reports from poll workers suggests that these voters had firmly decided on their candidates, which suggests that Election Day will mostly consist of the undecided.

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Early voting, however, also introduced the County’s new voting machines, which were unable to accommodate the entire list of nine candidates for council on one screen. Candidates Patrick Schoof and Clark Reed were placed on a second separate screen, which could have been overlooked by voters.  Whether this will affect their outcomes is unknown at this time, but Rockville elections can be very close.  In 2013, out of 6,685 ballots cast, Virginia Onley and Tom Moore were separated by 28 votes (0.4% of the total) and Beryl Feinberg and Don Hadley by 88 votes (1.2%; Mrs. Feinberg was elected, Mr. Hadley was not).  Both Mr. Schoof and Mr. Reed have filed complaints with the Board of Supervisors of Elections.  These voting machines won’t be used on November 3, which will eliminate that potential problem, but it does make one wonder why the same process wasn’t used throughout the entire Mayor and Council election to remove as many variables as possible.  Indeed, the November 3 ballots will require voters to fill the bubbles properly to be counted, which could affect seniors who are unfamiliar with Scantron-like forms.  Let’s hope this Rockville election isn’t a repeat of Florida’s 2000 presidential election.

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One response

  1. Hi Max,

    Last week’s machines will be used on Tuesday. They will be used for voters with special needs – hearing impaired, vision impaired, etc.

    For all others, the device does indeed have to be filled out exactly – like and SAT test – or else the vote is not counted by the machine

    Wonk alert – getting into the weeds follows. Something to tuck away for later.

    On the other hand, if the vote is very close, and a recount is needed, it is possible to do a hand count of the paper ballots/images. I do not know what happens then if ballots marked incorrectly show up in a re-count. The international standard is whether or not the intent of the voter is clear – regardless of if the bubble is completely filled in, or if people use an x instead of a checkmark, etc. I have no idea if this standard will prevail in Rockville or Maryland should it be required. Having done eleciotn proteciton and observed absentee ballot counting in MoCo in the past, I assume the international standard will be used. But I am not sure if that standard is made explicit in Rockville’s law.

    Feel better!

    Sima

    Sima Osdoby

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