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NEW: Technical problems, 'operator error' slowed Bexar vote count

Web Posted: 11/03/2004 04:03 PM CST

Elizabeth Allen
San Antonio Express-News

While most of the counting in Bexar County's election went smoothly Tuesday night, problems with 19 touchscreen units delayed the final tabulation until almost 6 a.m. today.

The machines had to be brought to the county's warehouse, where their data was retrieved and counted.

Elections Administrator Cliff Borofsky said only five of the 19 units actually had technical problems, including one with a broken screen, while the rest were "operator error"? meaning the election judges couldn't send the results.

County Judge Nelson Wolff said the glitches didn't concern him. The problems affected less than 1 percent of the more than 2,000 units used in the election, he said, and the delay in a final count mattered less than getting it right.

"My concern's never been to meet y'all's deadline for 100 percent," Wolff said. "My concern has been for accuracy."

Several election judges had problems with an error in sequencing, where they had pulled a piece of equipment before it had finished communicating with the unit in question.

"If you pull it out too fast, you're going to interrupt that sequence," Borofsky said, "and the cartridge says, 'Hey, you can't do that, and boom, I'm shutting down.'"

Each election judge is given instructions on sending the information, he said, but he'd rather they be focused on efficient election management rather than technical proficiency.

While the county had about 100 technicians in the field on election night, they couldn't deal with that particular problem, Borofsky said, because each cartridge is location-specific, not interchangeable, and they'd have to carry too many specially programmed backups.

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