D.C. elections officials offered an entirely new explanation Tuesday for the major vote-counting delays that plagued the city’s April 1 Democratic primary: The issue was not five mishandled electronic voting machines, but a broad computer network failure. The network failure was a mystery to elections officials as it unfolded, said Clifford D. Tatum, executive director of the Board of Elections. But its effect was abundantly clear to all involved on election night, when vote-counting — including ballots the city had accumulated during weeks of early voting — did not begin until almost 10. Deborah Nichols, chairwoman of the elections board, said that at least $2 million in new electronic voting machines and server upgrades — and perhaps another $2 million in computers and other office improvements — would be needed to ensure timely reporting of results in future citywide elections.
“That’s different than what was reported previously,” said D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), who as leader of the council’s oversight of the board called a hearing to scrutinize problems with the election. “At what point did you determine that there was a problem?”
… The problem tallying results from the city’s touch-screen voting machines — which were first used in District elections in 2010— was the biggest in a series of cascading election-night failures, Tatum acknowledged during the hearing.