Montgomery Co. inspecting hundreds of voting machines before election

WASHINGTON — In Montgomery County, crews will spend the next few weeks meticulously inspecting voting machines to ensure everything is ready to go when Maryland heads to the polls on Nov. 6.

For Lisa Jones and her crew, pouring over the intricate machinery of over 600 voting machines might be far from fun, but it’s definitely important — even though it’s sure to be a grind.

“It’s a lot of effort,” admitted Jones, after demonstrating the lengthy process that goes into checking and securing each voting machine. It can take up to three hours to examine a single machine and ballot-marking device, Jones went on to explain, including a 40-step process — established by the state, followed rigidly — to prove everything is in working order.

“That’s all the job is, is redundancy,” said Jones. “So 40 steps times, over a thousand times, that’s the job to get the equipment done.”

The process is the very definition of thorough, involving checking the physical locks on the ballot box, making sure the correct hardware is in place to count the votes and verifying that backups are working properly.

If a fault is found, it can sometimes take up to 6 hours to fix.

When everything is approved and good to go, every port of entry is sealed with a special, coded tag. Those tags are checked at every stop on the way to be counted. If they’ve been tampered with, it’s obvious, and Jones said the system can’t be hacked remotely.

“There’s no modems in the equipment,” said Jones. “The modems have been taken out. Security-wise, there’s no way to hack the equipment, there’s no way to do anything to tamper with any election.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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