Mock election aims to fix voting machine flaws (NJ)
Monmouth looks for answers
By Bob Jordan • FREEHOLD BUREAU • June 5, 2009
FREEHOLD — A special mock election — in which there will be no candidates and residents won't be allowed to vote — is on the way for Monmouth County, as officials hope to figure out what keeps going wrong in reporting results from the real elections.
County Clerk M. Claire French said a mock election this summer may be able to knock out flaws from the vote reporting system. The stress test will have municipal clerks transmitting randomly picked tally numbers simultaneously from the 53 municipalities.
The county's multimillion-dollar computerized voting tabulation system once again stumbled during Tuesday's primary election. French said the results were accurate but that some tallies were delayed hours after the polls closed, a sequence that has also occurred in the past. There were no delays in Ocean County.
"The delays are unacceptable," French said.
French on Friday said she met with central administration members and requested a "full analysis" of what went wrong Tuesday and asked for cooperation in staging a mock election.
County officials said it's a good idea.
"The system was slower (Tuesday) than we would have liked," county spokesman William K. Heine said. "That fact notwithstanding, it's important to keep in mind that Monmouth County has more towns and many more districts than Ocean County, so naturally it will take longer to tally all of those votes."
The county government supplies information technology personnel for elections, said French, who is the chief election results official.
But the head of the IT department, Gregory V. Putnam, wasn't on site at election offices on Tuesday night, a departure from past practice, French said. Putnam was hired by the county at an $118,000 salary last November.
"On Tuesday, the county did provide two IT people and a supervisor and they did their best, but it wasn't good enough," French said.
Heine said sufficient personnel was provided.
"As for the IT director not being there on Tuesday, he was present during the prior election and this time the assistant IT director was there. The assistant IT director is fully capable and, in fact, ran the IT department for a time when there was a vacancy," he said.