The Sad State of Maryland's Voter Rolls: 79k+ Inaccurate Records Found

After three years of grueling work, a group of citizen volunteers in Maryland, led by Kate Sullivan and David Morsberger, completed their report containing a statewide canvass and the results of their meticulous investigation of the state's voter rolls. They delivered their report to the Maryland State Board of Elections (BOE) on Feb. 27. The report is chock full of inaccuracies and ineligible voter records, a finding that does not bode well for a clean election in November 2024. 

It has been an arduous and data-driven process because these citizens understand how reluctant election officials are to clean their voter rolls. They cannot afford to be inaccurate. The volunteers hope the board will comply with their recommendations without having to file a lawsuit. Their real underlying mission is to ensure that votes will not be diluted and no voter in the state will be disenfranchised in 2024 as a result of the state's inarguably inaccurate voter rolls. 

The report makes it easy for election officials to understand precisely which regulations and black letter laws they will violate if the rolls are used in the upcoming election. It should, in theory, trouble them greatly. Frankly, the current state of the rolls should concern every citizen in the state.

Maryland State Report Includes Statewide and County Canvasses
Part of the report shows the results of a door-to-door state and county canvass Sullivan organized. At the state level, the citizen volunteers found 58 inaccurate records, representing 15 % of the 383 records surveyed. The Baltimore County canvass found 61 inaccurate records, representing 14% of the 418 individuals successfully contacted. The report spells out the details of their canvass and methodology used on pages 2 and 3 below. 

The other part of the report drills down on the state's voter rolls with a similar attention to detail. Theirs was a meticulous analysis of the state's voter rolls whereby Morsberger, an expert in data analysis and SQL, monitored the voter rolls. The group pooled their money to purchase the voter rolls starting in August 2021 and then purchased them another 11 times through July 2023 to continue to monitor and analyze the Maryland State Voter Registration Database for inaccuracies and vulnerabilities. He claims to have found "79,349 current apparent registration violations." Morsberger also claims to have found 62,075 voting violations in the 2020 General Election and 27,623 voting violations in the 2022 General Election.

The big picture details of the canvass and the state's voter rolls may be viewed below in Appendix E of the report. This shows a breakdown of the various categories and sub-categories of voting violations allegedly found for the 2020 and 2022 General Elections. 

The canvass and state voter registration results are alarming, and the inaccuracies found reflect the many errors and laws violated. The current state of Maryland's voter registration rolls prove the 2024 election results will be completely bogus if the inaccurate and ineligible voting records are not addressed.

Illegal Registrations: MD Voter Rolls Show Inaccuracies and Ineligible Registrations 
The report also details the various categories of inaccuracies and ineligible registrations in the state's rolls (page 4). An astonishing 25,084 records were allegedly found to have questionable inactive status; 5,680 active registrants allegedly moved at least four years ago, and there were allegedly 40,518 records with a questionable registration date.

In addition, very little in the state's various reports seems to reconcile. On page 6 below, Morsberger analyzed the 2020 and the 2022 General Elections Cast Voter Records and allegedly found 98,095 unreconciled blank ballots cast in the 2020 election and 82,356 in 2022. Sullivan told UncoverDC it was difficult to get a straight answer or consensus from election officials: "Despite repeated requests for clarification of these numbers, not one election official could agree on a final answer," said Sullivan. 

Furthermore, the statewide canvass revealed there were potentially 5,625 registered voters listed on the voter records as having voted in the 2020 election. Yet, when asked to confirm whether they actually voted, officials informed the canvass team they did not vote. 


Hava and FEC: Voting Systems and Accuracy
Voting System Standards were well defined by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in 2002. The Voting System Standards are defined as the following: "For a voting system, accuracy is defined as the ability of the system to capture, record, store, consolidate and report the specific selections and absence of selections, made by the voter for each ballot position without error. Required accuracy is defined in terms of an error rate that for testing purposes represents the maximum number of errors allowed while processing a specified volume of data. This rate is set at a sufficiently stringent level such that the likelihood of voting system errors affecting the outcome of an election is exceptionally remote even in the closest of elections."  Accurate voter rolls are the foundational element for those performance standards. 

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) lays out the requirements for accuracy of voting systems in detail. A 2015 Election Assistance Commission (EAC) update specifies the accuracy requirement for the "maximum acceptable error rate" should "total no more than one in 125,000" (expressed in terms of votes) concerning the "systematic miscounting of votes." The 2015 EAC update references HAVA, stating the following in a footnote, "The error rate was originally defined in Volume II of the 2002 Voting System Standards and is prescribed by Sec. 301(a)(5) of the Help America Vote Act of 2002." The Maryland report shows the number of votes over the allowable error rate for the 2020 and 2022 elections. 

Something as sacred as our vote—whether our voting systems involve machines or not—should be accurate end-to-end. When voter rolls are inaccurate, it results in a "garbage in, garbage out"  scenario. There is no question we have the technological capacity to maintain accurate voter rolls. It is a matter of whether we can garner the political will to do so—from demanding accuracy in our elections to holding people accountable when it is not achieved. Clean voter registration rolls are the cornerstone of fair, honest elections.

Evidence now coming forward from groups like United Sovereign Americans allegedly shows voter rolls are wildly inaccurate. According to NY Citizens Audit, the inaccuracies have resulted in a "catastrophic loss of control" over our elections. Elections whose basis is dirty voter rolls become unlawful before a single vote has even been cast. Moreover, the rampant uptick in the use of mail-in ballots, poor or non-existent signature verification, and millions of non-citizens being insinuated into the rolls every year with the potential to vote illegally contribute mightily to the dilution of one's vote and the disenfranchisement of every legal voter in the nation. 

Seeing state after state fail to maintain accurate voter rolls is mind-boggling. One would be hard-pressed to find any other industry or universe where these kinds of inaccuracies and this type of shoddy record-keeping would be allowed year after year. 

In November, UncoverDC reported that Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE) sued the Maryland State Board of Elections (MDSBE) on behalf of Sullivan and Morsberger because the BOE pulled a fast one in 2023. The BOE quietly added intimidating language to an NDA that citizens must sign to obtain the state's voter rolls. Sullivan noticed the change in the NDA language and challenged the BOE. She tried in good faith to convince the board to change it with fewer measures, but they refused to acknowledge her request. 

Sullivan serves on the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee in District 3. She and her volunteers have worked very hard to build relationships with county and state boards of elections. Sullivan has engaged grassroots groups throughout the state, updating them on her progress. And just last week, Sullivan and Morsberger presented their report to the Republican Delegation, who were supportive and impressed with the quality of their investigation and canvassing efforts. While facts and data are necessary, these types of efforts are more effective when citizens make an effort to build consensus and goodwill with citizens, political parties, and election officials.  

Sullivan says their efforts also have the support of the State GOP and the RNC. However, their support is arguably not a big ask. Sullivan and Morsberger have done all the legwork, their data is accurate, and they have an attorney ready to potentially sue the MD State BOE should it fail to comply with their requests and recommendations.  

*Kate Sullivan is related to the author of this column

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