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'Human error' creates doubt about failed vote in Carlisle
Unofficial results show 77 more votes than registered voters

By Ed Richter   Cox News Service   11 November 2005

CARLISLE | A judge may have to determine what to do about "human error" that may have contributed to the apparent defeat of a tax levy here Tuesday, Montgomery County's top elections official said.
The Montgomery County Board of Elections used new electronic voting machines for its residents in Tuesday's general election, including 148 registered voters who live in that county's section of Carlisle.

Tuesday's unofficial results indicated that 225 votes were cast in the two Carlisle precincts in Montgomery County ? 77 more than there are registered voters ? with the proposed 3.8-mill levy for fire and emergency medical services defeated by a vote of 146-79.

The Montgomery County votes, now in doubt, are important because the levy failed by 11 votes in Warren County, 520-509.

Until the vote snafu is resolved, the City Council won't be able to decide about funding its fire service and possibly adding an emergency medical services division.

It may be difficult for the Montgomery County Board of Elections to certify its final vote to forward to the Warren County Board of Elections, which provides final certification to the Ohio secretary of state's office, City Manager Brad Townsend told the City Council on Thursday.

Steve Harsman, Montgomery County elections director, said he had a brief discussion with the county prosecutor's office and is seeking guidance from the secretary of state's office.

Harsman said he is still researching what happened Tuesday and it was "human error."

He said he had issued separate encoders for various voting districts to the county's 2,200 poll workers.

The encoders, operated by poll workers, program vote-access cards with the voting district information for each voter.

Harsman said the county's poll workers may have encoded cards with the incorrect ballot information.

"We need to look at who actually voted (on Tuesday)," he said. "Without question, we'll address it."

As for the Carlisle levy, Harsman is unsure about the next step.

He said he has suggested that Carlisle consider contesting the election and filing a motion in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court for a hearing and letting a judge decide.

Harsman said he believes a judge could "probably order a new election" and assumes a new vote would have to be held in both counties.

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