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Error causes delay in election results
LOG CABIN  By RACHEL PARKER  09 November 2006

Human error led to incorrect election numbers by precincts being announced at the Faulkner County Courthouse on Tuesday night. However, the correct totals by race were available Wednesday.

A full courtroom listened Tuesday as Faulkner County Clerk Melinda Reynolds read the numbers, beginning with the early voting totals. Everything appeared to be progressing as usual until only three precincts remained to be announced. At that point, Reynolds was out of the room, and the crowd waited for about 45 minutes.

Following questions from two reporters, Faulkner County Election Commission Chairman Bruce Haggard was quick to come forward and announce there might have been a problem with the reporting of numbers and that, until the votes from each precinct were verified, the final three boxes would not be reported.

On Wednesday, Chief Deputy Clerk Tammie Davis explained what happened Tuesday night.

The new electronic voting machines store information on flash cards. Election officials from each precinct bring flash cards to the courthouse from each voting machine. The information is uploaded into a computer to merge the total votes from each particular precinct, and then a report is printed, Davis said. However, on Tuesday night, a mistake was made.

The early voting totals were uploaded first, which potentially included votes from every precinct. When the rest of the precincts began to be uploaded into the computer, the early votes were included again in the election day numbers for each precinct, Davis said. Election officials did not notice the discrepancy at first because the numbers were only slightly off as the first few precincts came in. By later in the evening, however, it became apparent that the numbers were too high.

"The election commission decided to zero everything out and recount," she said. "They got the totals from every machine."

Davis said the election commission called Election Systems and Software's technical support number, and an employee walked them through the process to discover the error.

"They figured out what the error was, zeroed out the machine, went back and took each flash card and entered it again. They successfully entered each precinct without entering the early voting totals again," Davis said. "This was completed about 1 a.m."

On Wednesday, election officials were checking the reports precinct by precinct. Those figures will be available soon, she said. Only the grand totals for each race were available on Wednesday.

Next, the provisional and overseas ballots have to be accounted for, and then the county has to allow at least 48 hours before the vote can be certified, Davis said.


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