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Senate revives bill for paper ballots

The Baltimore Sun, Capitol Notebook, April 6, 2007

The Maryland Senate revived yesterday a bill that would require voters to cast paper ballots and enable meaningful recounts in close elections.

The bill, which received preliminary approval from the Senate yesterday, essentially would scrap the state's existing high-tech computers, which operate much like ATMs but do not produce paper receipts.

Those machines, made by Diebold Election Systems Inc., would most likely be replaced with more affordable optical-scan machines in time for the 2010 gubernatorial elections. Voters would mark their choices by filling in ovals or completing a broken arrow on a paper ballot, and then feed the ballot into a computer for tallying. The ballot would be saved in the event of a recount.

The proposal has one important caveat: The state has to come up with the money to pay for the new equipment next year or the bill becomes moot. But Sen. Roy P. Dyson, a Southern Maryland Democrat, said that the bill's 2010 timetable should give the legislature time to work out financing.

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