The recent primary elections have exposed at least one shortcoming of the new system: The recording and reporting of write-in votes. The county will no longer publish the names of all the write-ins.
At the very least, this strips some of the entertainment value out of browsing the voting results.
Below is the text of an email we received from Montgomery County:
I was just told in the elevator this morning that Voter Services can’t run a report listing all write-ins cast in the election as they have in past years.
With the old machines, voters had to use a keypad to type in their write-in votes and those were recorded on the machine cartridges that were read into a database. Voter Services just had to run a report and put iton (sic) an Excel spreadsheet.
The write-ins are now handwritten. At tabulation, they only record write-ins if there are enough to meet a threshold (I’m pretty sure it’s at least 10, but I need to confirm that) and they don’t record what they consider disqualifying votes at all, i.e. votes for fictional characters such as Gritty or Mickey Mouse.
To compile a list like they had in the past, someone would have to go through all 100,000 ballots and manually record them to the list.
If the write-ins are spread across 100,000 ballots, exactly how do they tabulate which ones are real and which are goofy, along with keeping track of which ones met a threshold, without creating a master list of all write-in in votes?
Who gets to decide which ones are goofy and not include them? Seems like it would be easier and more efficient to tabulate all of them for a full record. What happens when there is a more obscure satirical vote? Who figures out if its a real person or not?