The 2020 election is eleven days away, and all eyes are on early voting, and mail-in voting as instances of fraud and inaccuracies are reported almost every day. A video clip in which a poll worker appears to alter a ballot in Germantown, Maryland, is going viral. Germantown is in Montgomery County, Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction.
Yahoo finance was live streaming at Plum Gar Community Recreation Center Tuesday, showing canvass workers taking mail-in ballots out of envelopes, straightening them, scanning them for errors, and preparing them for the electronic ballot scanners. The camera was trained on a room of workers when the man sitting directly in front of the camera starts opening a ballot envelope and carefully straightens the ballot. He then begins looking around in a very odd way, even looking directly into the camera at one point, as he continues to arrange the ballot. He then sits up and grabs a pen on the desk in front of him. He lays the ballot on the desk and marks on the ballot.
Maryland Election Law states, “a person with custody of election records may not willfully and knowingly: (1) destroy, deface, falsify, remove, or conceal any record related to voting; (2) make a fraudulent entry or alteration, or permit another person to make a fraudulent entry or alteration, of any record related to voting.” The penalty for such crimes is a felony charge leading to one to ten years in prison.
An emergency meeting was called Wednesday for Montgomery County election officials when word got out about the video. Officials were concerned that the video may lead to false accusations. After an investigation, Montgomery County elections board counsel, Kevin Karpinski said, “I find no evidence whatsoever, any sort of attempt of voter fraud.” Karpinski interviewed the poll worker, the other poll workers and inspected the ballots the worker in question had handled and did not find anything out of order. He added that the worker was darkening an oval on the ballot to ensure the ballot reader picked up the proper selection, which is a protocol started in 2003 to ensure as many ballots as possible are accepted.
Jim Shalleck, Montgomery County’s election board chair said, “Something like this just feeds into people who believe mail-in voting is fraudulent. It’s very unfortunate.