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2023 Election Debrief: BOES Report, ElectionGuard Success, and Future Strategies

The Board of Election Supervisors is scheduled to meet with the Mayor and Council on January 16 for the 2023 Election Debrief. The following is a summary of the BOES report and the ElectionGuard report.

The 2023 election planning by the Board of Election Supervisors started in fall 2022 but faced interruption in March due to a Special Election after the former Mayor’s resignation. In early 2023, ElectionGuard was introduced by R. C. Carter, and the City partnered with them, incorporating ElectionGuard, Hart InterCivic, and the Center for Civic Design in the General Election. Post-election, positive comments highlighted the software’s success, with matching results and independent validation. The technical report is available here: https://www.electionguard.vote/elections/College_Park_Maryland_2023/

New Initiatives for the 2023 General Elections
For the 2023 General Election, key initiatives were implemented, including encrypted election results, heightened awareness efforts, enhanced ballot confidentiality, comprehensive voter surveys, robust reporting through Hart Verity, and the purchase of electronic pollpads. Changes to voter registration deadlines and automatic mailing of ballots to Permanent Vote By Mail list members were made. Notably, mail-in ballots were processed before Election Day, and election judge compensation saw a significant increase, accompanied by intensified training efforts.

2023 Election Results
In the 2023 General Election, Early Voting took place on October 25 and November 2, while Election Day occurred on November 5. Mail-in absentee ballots were collected via drop boxes, with 953 automatically mailed to Permanent Vote By Mail list members. A total of 1,012 mail ballots were sent, and 500 were returned. Canvass added 132 ballots to preliminary results, and the voter turnout was 10.17%, with 1,468 persons voting out of 14,428 registered voters.

Future Elections – Discussion Points:
Discussion points for future elections include concerns about Davis Hall’s adequacy as a polling place due to space issues. The Board of Election Supervisors (BOES) recommends alternate locations and suggests using Davis Hall only on weekends if necessary. Continuity on the BOES is a concern, with vacancies and potential retirements. The BOES suggests hiring an election support specialist for the 2025 election. The effectiveness of two days of early voting is questioned, proposing transportation options instead. The use of ElectionGuard and/or Hart InterCivic equipment is recommended, along with publicizing the state’s Permanent Vote By Mail list. Research on technology for Ranked Choice Voting is also advised.

Preliminary City Election Results

I want to express my gratitude to all my fellow candidates who ran spirited campaigns in this year’s College Park City election. Whether you won or not, simply participating in this election means a great deal to all of us. You are all winners, so congratulations to each one of you.
I look forward to working with you all.
I am also grateful and honored to have the opportunity to serve our residents in the new term.
Here are the preliminary results (from City’s website: https://www.collegeparkmd.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=549)

Mayor
Kabir 1217
District 1
Clary. 145
Haddad. 167
Hernandez. 266
Hew. 322
Roan. 160
District 2
Esters. 163
Whitney. 164
District 3
Riggs. 327
Adams. 305
Abbott 57
District 4
Mitchell. 123
Mackie. 124
Advisory Question – Support 4-year staggered terms?
Yes 710
No 567

District 1 and District 3 Candidate Debates

The College Park Here and Now Newspaper, whose parent company is Streetcar Suburbs Publishing, will host a District 1 candidate debate on Wednesday, October 18, at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

The candidates are:

  • Kamthorn Clary
  • Bryan Haddad
  • Jacob Hernandez
  • Alan Hew
  • Brian Roan

The event will be broadcast on our cable channels, streamed over the website, and shown on Zoom at the following link https://zoom.us/j/96321000466

The District 3 candidates for City Council will debate on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The Yarrow Civic Association hosts this event.

The candidates are:

  • Perez Abbott
  • Stuart Adams
  • John Rigg

Mayor Fazlul Kabir, who is running for re-election unopposed, will make a special appearance at the event. The event will be broadcast on our cable channels, streamed over the website, and shown on Zoom at the following link https://zoom.us/j/93266086406

Tonight – Information Session about All About ElectionGuard

Voters will see something new at the polls in this fall’s General Election in College Park. The City is partnering with ElectionGuard on their third trial of new election technology that lets every voter confirm that their ballot was counted and provides independent verification that the election results are correct.

How does ElectionGuard Work?

ElectionGuard runs alongside an existing voting system. Voters mark paper ballots as usual. When the ballot is scanned, ElectionGuard encrypts the ballot and prints a confirmation code for the voter to use to verify that their ballot is included in the final count. All of the encrypted ballots are used to create a snapshot of the in person votes for the election. This snapshot is then used to check the results of the election without revealing how any individual voted.

Who are the Election Guardians and what do they do?

Election Guardians are trusted, independent members of the community who help set up ElectionGuard. They have a special role in creating the cryptographic locks that secure the election:

  • Before the election, Guardians create a special lock and key. The lock is loaded on Before the election, Guardians create a special lock and key. The lock is loaded on the ballot scanners to encrypt all of the bathe ballot scanners to encrypt all of the ballots for the election.
  • During the election, Guardians each keep their part of the key secure. Having a During the election, Guardians each keep their part of the key secure. Having a small group of Guardians means that no one person can unlock the election on small group of Guardians means that no one person can unlock the election on their own.
  • When it’s time to count the ballots, Guardians return to unlock When it’s time to count the ballots, Guardians return to unlock the election. They bring their keys back to the election office to unlock the tally and create the They bring their keys back to the election office to unlock the tally and create the ElectionGuard record.

It is a simple but critical role to ensure that no single person can access election results. With several people acting as Guardians, they add independent security to the ElectionGuard lock and key process.  Guardians do not replace the City’s appointed Board of Election Supervisors, who are still in charge of running the election.

ElectionGuard Public Information Session
You are invited to a public information session on Wednesday, September 27, to learn more about how ElectionGuard works and how it will be used in the upcoming College Park election:

  • Meet the election vendors
  • Take part in a mock election
  • Run a challenge ballot
  • Test the voting equipment

ElectionGuard Public Information Session
Wednesday, September 27 7:00 p.m.
College Park City Hall
7401 Baltimore Avenue

Parking is free in levels 3-5 of the Downtown Parking Garage, located at 7308 Yale Avenue.

Accessible Voting

For those who cannot hand mark a ballot with a pen , the City is using the Hart InterCivic Verity Touch Writer as the ballot marking device to support accessible voting. The Verity Touch Writer has accessible features that allow the voter to make their selections through an electronic interface, and to print a marked ballot when complete. Once Touch Writer prints a ballot, the voter will cast the ballot through the scanner. We will offer hands on demonstrations of the Touch Writer at the September 27 information session.

For more information, to ask questions of the vendors, and to try the equipment, please come to the Information Session on September 27 at City Hall.

City Seeks Election Judges / Poll Workers

The City is recruiting Election Judges/Poll Workers for the City’s upcoming General Election. Applicants must be able to attend mandatory training and work at least one of the three polling days (see attached application for details). Preference will be given to individuals with prior experience as a local election judge, and those who can work multiple days.

Applicants must be a registered Maryland voter, at least 18 years old, and have no affiliation with a candidate in the election. Bi-lingual individuals are encouraged to apply.

If you are interested, please complete the attached application and return it to election@collegeparkmd.gov by Monday, October 2.

Click here for the: Election Judge Application

Council to Discuss Referendum on Extending Council Term to Four Years

Mayor Pro Tem Mitchell has requested a discussion on an item at tomorrow’s Council meeting.
The last discussion on the term issue occurred on July 2, 2019, based on a report from the Charter Review Commission. Voters also voted on non-binding referendum questions in the 2019 election. A majority of voters voted to keep the Council term to 2 years. Voters also voted to have staggered terms if Council terms are changed from 2 years to 4 years.
Two votes will be taken if the Council wants to include the question on the November 2023 ballot. The ballot language must be approved by September 5. The November 2023 ballot gauges resident opinion and the results are not binding. After reviewing the results, the Mayor and Council can decide whether to proceed with further discussion.

City Looks for Applicants to Fill District 1 City Council Vacant Position

On Tuesday, May 16, I was sworn in as Mayor of College Park, leaving a vacancy on the City Council from District 1.

By the City Charter, the vacancy may be filled by appointment within 30 days (by June 15) by a majority vote of the Council. The appointed term will end in December when the next Mayor and Council are sworn in.

Residents interested in applying to fill the Council vacancy must be 18 years old as of June 13, a citizen of the United States, current registered voters in the City, and have lived there for at least one year. The applicant does not need to be a resident of District 1 to be considered but, if appointed, will represent District 1 on the City Council. District 1 is shown in blue on the map below and includes the neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Hollywood, Cherry Hill, Daniels Park and Autoville.

Information about the responsibility of the City Council is located in Article III of the City Charter: https://ecode360.com/12119206 and Chapter 62, Section 4 of the City Code: https://ecode360.com/9897014. The City Council meets on Tuesday evenings in the Council Chambers of City Hall. Councilmembers are expected to attend meetings in person except under certain circumstances. Council members are paid $7,000 per year.

If you are interested in being considered to fill the vacant Council seat, please submit a letter of interest with the following information:

1. Your name, address, contact information, and a statement asserting that you meet the above-mentioned qualifications.

2. Information about yourself. This could include your occupation, education, professional background, and community involvement. You may attach a resume.

3. Briefly describe why you should be considered to fill the vacancy.

Letters should be submitted by June 1 at noon in one of the following ways:

  • By email to cityclerkoffice@collegeparkmd.gov with the subject line “Council Vacancy Application.”
  • Mail or hand delivery to Janeen S. Miller, City Clerk, City of College Park, 7401 Baltimore Avenue, Suite 201, College Park, Maryland, 20740.

For more information, please call Ms. Miller at 240-487-3501.

[City of College Park]

City Publishes Final Special Election Results

Today, the City’s Board of Election Supervisors counted a few more mail-in votes through postal services.

Based on the counts, the certified election results are as follows:

  • Bryan Haddad – 19 votes
  • S.M. Fazlul Kabir* – 1,008 votes
  • Catherine Hope Kennedy – 469 votes
  • Denise C. Mitchell – 354 votes

There were 14,263 registered voters as of April 18, 2023.

Preliminary Special Mayoral Election Results

This afternoon, the City announced the Preliminary Results of the Special Election for Office of Mayor.

This count includes ballots from Early voting, Election Day, and mail-in ballots received.  These results will be updated on Friday, May 12, to include ballots that will be collected from the Post Office box on Friday at noon.

Ballots that were postmarked by 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, may be counted.

There are approximately 51 ballots issued by mail or in person that have not been returned.

Thanks for Voting!

Election signs of four candidates running in the 2023 special mayoral election. [photo credit: The Diamondback]

Thanks to everyone who voted on our Election Day this past Saturday. So far, a total of 1901 voters have voted. This is amazing.

So far, 629 voters voted at the City Hall, 866 voted at Davis Hall last Tuesday, and 406 voted by absentee ballots.

We hope to get the initial results next Thursday. The Board of Elections Supervisors want to wait a few days for the absentee ballots to come in. Last Saturday was the last day to drop absentee ballots by mail.

The final results will be announced at 3 pm this Friday, May 12.

As we wait for the final results, I want to thank my candidate colleagues for running and giving our residents options. No matter who wins, I’m confident our residents will be in good hands as we work together to move College Park forward.

 

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