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County resets software, recounts 81,000 ballots


The Thurston County elections staff recounted an estimated 81,000 ballots first tallied Election Day after learning that computer software wasn't set up properly for the first count.
No errors were caused in tabulating the ballots the first time, Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman said. But the mistake did make it impossible for her to know exactly how many poll-site ballots were cast in each precinct of the county.

As a result, Wyman and about a dozen staff members worked into the evening, recounting the ballots after properly setting software on the machines. They needed the data as part of their routine effort to confirm that machine-vote totals equal the totals in poll books kept at every precinct on Election Day.

Wyman insisted the error was not a serious one and that the recount was strictly routine.

"This is going exactly how it should," Wyman said of the election.

Linda Wheeler, an observer for the gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Christine Gregoire, looked on without concern. Rebecca Stiles, an observer for Republican Dino Rossi, also looked on without worry, saying "it's good to take precautions" to make sure everyone is comfortable with the voting process and vote totals.

However, the glitch came after problems the county's election division encountered with the September primary, including late mailing of absentees and sending the wrong slate of legislative candidates to some voters.

In this case, an "F2 key" was not punched when elections workers set up the vote-counting machines prior to Tuesday's election, Wyman said.

She did not identify the employee who made the error. It was discovered Wednesday morning.

The recount included 55,000 absentees and 26,000 poll-site ballots. Overall, Wyman said, 108,000 or 109,000 ballots could be counted this election in Thurston County, the first time more than 100,000 ballots were cast.

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