Maryland will be rolling out its new optical scan voting system in April 2016, and state election officials recently gave a presentation at the 2015 State Certification Testing of Voting Systems National Conference in Seattle on how they chose the new system, which will replace the current touch-screen machines. Maryland’s experience may offer lessons on managing the complexities of choosing new technology for other states and jurisdictions faced with buying new systems in the near future.
In 2014, the state assembled the list of requirements for its system, including not just the technology but also training, maintenance and repair, and quality assurance. A request for proposals (RFP) was released in July and closed in September 2014.
The RFP yielded four bids, which were reviewed by a committee of five in collaboration with several advisers. Each bidding vendor demonstrated its technology for the committee. While the systems were being reviewed, they also were going through the state certification process. Two of the four were certified, and in October 2014, the new system was selected.
Since then, the state has been working on implementation, including:
- Establishing how the new voting system will interact with the state’s voter registration database, electronic pollbook system, and election results website.
- Creating new training programs for election officials and poll workers.
- Addressing logistical issues, such as where the systems will be stored and how they will be transported.