Computer glitch blamed for miscount in JP voting
By Anna Mathews for the Carroll County Star Tribune. 10 November 2004.
BERRYVILLE Election results were not certified Monday as planned, after a computer glitch was discovered that skewed results from the JP District 2 race between Rocky Whitely and Duane Coatney.
The glitch was discovered by Carroll County Election Commission members when they met to certify election results Monday at the Berryville courthouse.
It is believed that the programming alignment was out of kilter, as provided by Election Systems and Software, the company that programs computer chips to read the local ballots.
As a result, ballots for the JP District 2 race will either be hand counted, or re-run through the optical scanner machine once the correct computer chip is provided.
Election commissioners have scheduled a 4 p.m. Tuesday meeting to do just that, and to certify all other election results.
The Tuesday meeting should also determine the outcome of the three-way alderman race in Green Forest. The race is too close to call and those ballots will be hand counted, with over and under votes figured in.
The Green Forest city recorder/treasurer race is a done deal. It was a close race, with incumbent Janell Compton apparently winning with four more votes than her challenger, Debbie Greer.
There will be no recount in that race as Greer submitted a notarized letter to the Election Commission conceding the seat to Compton.
The commission also considered a request from the town of Beaver requesting information on a proposed special election to elect a new mayor following the resignation of Jim Young.
The two-and-a-half hour meeting brought to light the Election Commission's continuing dilemma.
The amount of work required of the three member commission is becoming too great, says commission chairman Levi Phillips. Each receives $25 per meeting, whether the meeting lasts an hour or all night, as is the case election eve.
Phillips said there needed to be changes in the future, and suggested funding for a full-time election coordinator, working under the direction of the county clerks but accountable to the election commission.
This person would take and type minutes from election commission meetings, oversee voter registration, help with elections and keep up with the ever-changing election laws.
He noted that this position would also ease the burden of the county clerk's office, which has been overwhelmed by early voters in recent weeks.
"Basically the volunteer election commission can't handle it, and the clerk's office needs help," Phillips said. "I want to amend the budget to add one person to handle nothing but elections, with a separate office and separate phone. It has to happen."