Primary Day problems in Sussex County were not a matter of the votes counting, but of counting the votes. Computer experts have traced the problem with Sussex County’s election results on Primary Day to a bug in the software used to tabulate votes.
Marge McCabe, administrator for the county Board of Elections, said Friday that she received a verbal report from Elections Systems and Software that the problem had been traced to programming. “I’m relieved there was no problem with the voting machines nor our procedures,” she said. “The problem was not in voting, but in tabulating.”
A full written report on what the ES&S experts found is expected soon.
On Primary Day, results of balloting came in to the Board of Elections for the first part of the evening, but then stopped short of tallying all districts, leaving officials with incomplete results for the night. It wasn’t until nearly a week later that final, complete results were available. The total results did not change the outcome of any of the races.
The problem with the primary results was the second time this year that the board had problems with tabulating votes. In the school elections in April, the initial tabulation showed that the school budget in Green failed when, in fact, the budget passed. The problem was traced to one district being counted twice.
Early this year, the board had received software updates to a system which had never had a problem before and was a source of pride for the county, the only one in the state to use the ES&S system.
In the county’s system, voters input their choices directly into a laptop-sized computer which records the vote in three separate ways. When the polls close, a cartridge is removed and put into a telephone modem which sends the vote results to the main computer in Newton. In both the school and primary elections, the vote made into the voting machines matched, but the results from the tabulating computer differed.
McCabe said the company is working on procedural changes which the board can adopt to work around the software bug. She said that if the program was to be rewritten, it would need to go through a months-long review process with the federal election officials and could open the program up to other unforeseen problems.
Full Article: New Jersey Herald.