Vendor bender. City clerk blames ES&S for Election Day difficulties.
By Robert Morgan/Times Record News
May 14, 2006
An election that started with problems ended with problems Saturday night.
And according to City Clerk Lydia Ozuna the blame rests firmly on the shoulders of Election Systems and Software, the county's election vendor.
Election results in the joint election were delayed until 11 p.m. Saturday because of problems involved with using two forms of ballot technology, Ozuna said.
When asked about the problems, County Clerk Lori Bohannon replied, "It's not my election" and said she was "leaving (Ozuna) alone."
Early voting began with paper ballots. The backdated form of voting was required because ES&S did not supply the information necessary to program electronic voting machines.
The machines were used in the last two days of early voting and on Election Day.
Problems occurred Saturday, Ozuna said, in combining the paper and electronic ballots.
All problems originated at ES&S, Ozuna said.
Paper ballot returns had to be manually entered into a computer to obtain the total results from early voting and Election Day. Ozuna said the process was very time consuming and complicated.
Ozuna's office began counting the paper ballots at 6 a.m. Saturday morning. She speculated that paper ballots had not been used in Wichita Falls since 1975.
If ES&S had provided optical scan ballots - similar to Scantrons - these problems could have been avoided, she said.
"Zoom, zoom. It would've been done," she said.
Besides a delay in ballot counting, Ozuna said she had received calls about difficulties with the electronic voting machines. Poll workers called in saying the machines were not working properly.
Ozuna said she had hired a person from ES&S to solve issues with the machines. Programming was the main reason for the problems, she said.
Despite the delay in results, Ozuna said Election Day was "not as hectic as early voting