Montgomery elections board has already taken steps to remedy problems that plagued Sept. 12 primary, an auditor’s report says

Consultant also suggests a new headquarters is needed

Monday, Oct. 30, 2006

Montgomery County’s elections board needed better contingency planning and a better way of communicating with voters and election judges after missing voter access cards led to delays, confusion and a one-hour voting extension during the Sept. 12 primary election, a consultant said.

The Board of Elections hired an outside auditor, a Houston-based trade organization called The Election Center, to look into the primary election debacle. The auditor’s final report was delivered last week.

Since the primary, the elections board has added three levels of verification during packing to make sure that all voting materials — including voter access cards used to activate the electronic voting machines — are included in precinct bags, the auditor wrote. The board’s communications system also has been upgraded to allow for calls to all 238 polling places, and to handle additional call volume for voters’ and judges’ questions on Election Day.

The auditor noted that the county’s offices in Rockville are antiquated and unacceptable for conducting elections. The County Council is also evaluating remodeling the office or moving to a new facility.

Other recommendations in the report include hiring more permanent employees with technical expertise, making poll worker recruiters permanent employees and improving the quality and accuracy of public notices released by the elections board.

The Election Center was paid $25,000 for the report.