By Aidan Hughes
For The Diamondback
College Park hosted a public information session Wednesday showcasing a new election technology intended to boost voters’ confidence in the integrity of election results.
The city will use ElectionGuard, an open-source software program for verifying and auditing elections, in this year’s municipal election on Nov. 5. Officials said they hope the technology will add an additional layer of trust in this year’s municipal election.
“I thought it was great to show the technology and let people play with it,” R.C. Carter, a project manager for The Turnout, an organization that works to help governments modernize their elections through technology, told The Diamondback.
City officials, along with Carter and Pam Geppert from Hart InterCivic — an election technologies and services company — touted ElectionGuard’s ability to provide an encrypted public copy of election results. This protects voter privacy while allowing for independent verification and auditing of vote tallies, officials said.
ElectionGuard also provides receipt-like confirmation codes for voters after casting a ballot, which gives voters the ability to confirm their vote was counted. The software also offers a “BallotCheck” feature, where voters can verify a test ballot has accurately recorded their selections before casting an official vote.
College Park’s adoption of ElectionGuard comes as officials across the country struggle to reinforce trust in America’s election integrity, and as former president Donald Trump continues to push unfounded claims that election interference occurred during the 2020 presidential election.
Less than half of all Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of confidence that the 2024 presidential election results will be accurate, according to a July Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.
Officials emphasized that incorporating ElectionGuard into the city’s existing processes this year will be a valuable addition to an already-robust system.
“This will speak to a lot of the myths and the conspiracies that were alleged after some national elections,” said College Park city clerk and election administrator Janeen Miller. “You can see that your vote counted the way that you intended it to.”
Carter said the city does not currently have plans to use ElectionGuard during the 2024 presidential election, but would “love to come back.”
Mirroring national trends, Republicans in Prince George’s County have also expressed doubt about the validity of election results, said Prince George’s County Republican Central Committee chair Jesse Peed.
“We don’t really have a lot of faith in them at this point, I’ll put it that way,” Peed said in an interview with The Diamondback.
Efforts like voter identification requirements, signature verification and better voter roll maintenance would help improve trust in the election process, Peed added.
College Park Board of Election Supervisors’ chief John Payne said keeping voter rolls up-to-date in College Park is a challenge due to high turnover from the student population, but that the city does what it can.
Payne also sought to dispel any concerns about election integrity in College Park for voters on Wednesday.
“We have receipts that come from the poll book, so we know exactly how many people checked in,” Payne said. “We have counters on the poll books, we have counters on the scanners, we keep track of those and make sure that the number of ballots matches the number of people that got checked in and cast a ballot. So our inventory control is excruciatingly complete.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the College Park municipal election date. This story has been updated.