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Delays reported in recording election results (NJ)
Ashbury Park Press. June 5, 2008. By Bob Jordan, FREEHOLD BUREAU

Monmouth County Clerk M. Claire French said there were delays in recording results cast in the Tuesday primary election in a handful of municipalities. But French said she was pleased with the overall performance of new election systems that are in place.

In Marlboro, results were held up because a results cartridge was not turned in. French said the cartridge was in an unused voting machine hidden from view behind a fire truck at a firehouse polling place.

In Middletown, a computer being used by the municipal clerk malfunctioned, forcing officials to transport the cartridges to French's office in Freehold. They were finally read by a computer there at 11 p.m., 3 hours after the polls had closed.

In Asbury Park, a poll worker with a results cartridge went missing for 40 minutes after the polls closed. French said officials were told the worker went to relay birthday wishes at a friend's party.

"We had a couple of glitches and we always will, because the human element is involved," French said Wednesday. "When you have close to 2,000 poll workers, as we do in Monmouth County, the odds are very good that you'll have at least one unusual circumstance."

In some instances, if municipal election officials experience problems with having their computer-read voting cartridges, they take the cartridges to a neighboring municipality for assistance, which can create delays in tabulating results, French said.

The county began using new voting technology in 2006. The electronic voting machines cost more than $8 million, but the federal government paid 75 percent of the cost under the Help America Vote Act.

Each of the county's 460 voting districts has two machines, French said. Each machine has a cartridge that stores ballot information after votes are cast. French said software enables each municipal clerk to have direct electronic reporting connections to a server in Freehold.

The former voting system in Monmouth relied on mechanical lever voting machines.

Bob Jordan: (732) 308-7755 or bjordan@app.com

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