Sussex County freeholders are withholding payment to the company that provides and services the county’s election computers until the board can get a face-to-face meeting with company representatives.
“Just like there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no bugs in election software,” Freeholder Philip Crabb said during Wednesday’s meeting. “It just can’t happen.”
Crabb was the one who suggested pulling Elections Systems and Software from the list of bills for the freeholders to authorize payment. The amount of the bill was about $31,760 and is a regular payment under a maintenance and service agreement.
In both the April school elections and June primary balloting, the Board of Elections computers had problems tabulating the votes cast in the polling place. In the school elections, the tabulating computer twice counted an election district in Green Township, which made it appear the school district budget had been voted down. Hand-counting of the ballots, however, showed the budget passed.
In the primary election, the tabulating computer could not process the final handful of precincts, and final results were not available for a couple of days. “Software just doesn’t have good days and bad days,” said Crabb, who is the board’s liaison for technology issues. “You get out what you put in.”
Marge McCabe, administrator of the Board of Elections, said ES&S technicians found “a bug” in the new software provided to the county before the school elections. Company technicians are working on procedures to bypass the faulty computer code.
“Elections are something this board needs to get clarity on,” Crabb said. He also noted that the local Board of Elections worked hard to get the proper results by hand-counting ballots.
Crabb was a candidate in the primary for the Republican endorsement to run as freeholder, and although the race between him and the other candidate, Dennis Mudrick, was relatively close, the incomplete results on primary night made it clear Crabb won the election.
In another action, Freeholder Director Rich Zeoli called it a “hold-your-nose” resolution when he introduced legislation to pay the law firm of Friedman and Doherty about $73,000 in attorneys fees in a suit filed against the county over the cost of photocopying documents sought under the Open Public Records Act.
The county won the lawsuit, but the state Appellate Division ruled the county was liable for partial share of attorney fees on behalf of the late Martin O’Shea, who sued several government entities over how much they charged per page.
The statewide settlement was about $1.7 million.
Full Article: New Jersey Herald.