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Election Result Delays Due To Data Transfer Difficulties

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SCREENSHOT VIA MARYLAND STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS
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Several jurisdictions, including Baltimore County, were not able to release results on election night. State Board of Elections officials say this was because of difficulties with transferring data from thumb drives. 

Local elections boards store data from ballot scanners on thumb drives, then transfer them to the state’s central voting database. 

Nikki Charlson, the board’s deputy administrator, said this isn’t a new process. But because of the pandemic, Maryland used voting centers on election day, rather than the usual precinct based polling places. That means the system had to adjust to different ballots from different precincts. 

“When we're precinct based, it's just looking for results from that precinct,” Charlson said. “When you move to vote center model, it needs to be able to accommodate ballots from any precinct in that county.” 

Each time a voting center does not have ballots from a precinct, it requires a manual confirmation process. That process and transferring data take eight to 10 minutes per thumb drive.

Charlson said the board will be working on getting results out Thursday. 

 

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.