By Melanie Batley, Newsmax

A number of voting machines in Maryland and Illinois are electronically switching Republican votes to the Democrats, raising suspicions that fraud could be at the root of the alleged malfunction.

According to Watchdog.org, election officials in both states have characterized the problem as a “calibration issue,” but a software developer and expert on touch screens used by U.S. intelligence agencies told Newsmax that the explanation was bogus.

“It’s a software issue, and it’s incredibly suspicious that a bug like that could slip through accidentally. It defies belief,” said Tony Heller.

He said that any expert trained in the technology could figure out within minutes whether the problem with the software was accidental and deliberate.

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“This is being used by the public for voting. Public trust is essential,” he said. “It’s completely unacceptable that an official waved it off as a calibration issue. It’s something that can be easily verified and should be.”

Maryland voters in multiple locations who were placing early ballots for the midterm elections found that when they pressed the touch screen in favor of Republican candidates, their votes appeared in the Democratic columns.

At least four voters in three different locations in Maryland experienced the problem.

“When I first selected my candidate on the electronic machine, it would not put the ‘x’ on the candidate I chose — a Republican — but it would put the ‘x’ on the Democrat candidate above it,” said a voter from Frederick. “This happened multiple times with multiple selections. Every time my choice flipped from Republican to Democrat.”

Queen Anne County Sheriff Gary Hofmann said he encountered the problem as well.

“This is happening here as well. It occurred on two candidates on my machine. I am glad I checked. Many voters have reported this here as well,” Hofmann told Watchdog.

A Maryland election director, Joe Torre, described the problem as a “calibration issue” involving a single machine.

But the same problem has also occurred in Chicago, Illinois where early voting began last week, according to Watchdog.

“I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast a vote for my opponent,” said GOP state House candidate Jim Moynihan. “You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat.”

An Illinois elections official, Jim Scalzitti, also described the problem as a “calibration error,” according to Watchdog.

Election officials in both states were notified of the problem, and those who reported having difficulties were ultimately able to cast the vote they intended. However, concerns remain about whether votes are being miscast in favor of the Democrats.

“I’m not sure what was done about it. If someone is not paying close attention, they could end up voting for the wrong candidate,” one Maryland resident told Watchdog.

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