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Countywide vote results unavailable due to problems transferring data (NJ)

ELAINE ROSE     Press of Atlantic City   07 November 2007

ATLANTIC CITY - The old saying, "To err is human, but to really foul up, you need a computer," proved true Tuesday night, as technical difficulties prevented release of vote tallies for countywide offices.

Technicians fiddled with computers on the auditorium stage in the county office building well into the night, while election officials tried to solve the problem. Even after midnight, no results were posted on the county Web site.

Shortly before 11:30 p.m., Superintendent of Elections John Mooney came downstairs to explain the situation to reporters waiting for results.

Each of the approximately 320 voting machines in the county records the votes on a data cartridge, which has a paper tape as backup, Mooney said. The computer could read the data, but there was a problem transferring it to the database system that adds up all the votes.

"We've been on the phone with (the manufacturer) for the last hour," trying to fix the problem, Mooney said.

The final tallies would be available early this morning, he said.

Municipal clerks recorded all the votes in their town, and the computer system is a check and balance on their work, Mooney said. The computer also avoids the need to add up the votes for countywide races by hand.

Mooney said that Dennis Levinson won re-election as county executive, and that Charles Garrett and Richard Dase won district freeholder races, but he could not give a vote count.

All the voting-machine cartridges were in the county building in Atlantic City, and a state trooper was present all night to guard them, Mooney said.

Voter turnout was low Tuesday, especially in Atlantic City and Pleasantville, Mooney said.

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