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Registrar: No Washoe County votes lost due to malfunction (NV)
RGJ.com. November 5, 2008. By Susan Voyles

Bottom line: No votes were lost by the Washoe County Voter Registrar’s office Tuesday night because of any election machinery malfunction.

Holding up election results for hours were 40 blank cartridges from voting machines that were pulled for testing. They were indeed blank cartridges because they were never used, said Kathy Carter, county spokeswoman.

The cartridges came from voting machines that were put on the floor at some of the 99 different polling places. Because of a record 101,787 early voters, Carter said some voting machines weren’t used in the precincts because large crowds didn’t appear.

When the registrar’s computer alerted staff to the unusually high number of blanks, she said all other vote counting came to a stop until the problem was checked out. “It came up with a message that the polls never opened,” Carter said, of the computer alert.

Workers then sorted through 1,300 cartridges to find the 40 blanks and ran diagnostic tests to ensure they were indeed blank. That took about 2 1/2 hours. “The good news is the system performed the way it was supposed to,” she said.

In some areas, newspapers were delivered about an hour later than usual to get in the final results. “When our newspaper was late this morning, I had to tell my husband, it was our fault,” Carter said. “They were holding up the paper.”

The incomplete results also left several candidates in a lurch. County Commissioner Robert Larkin, for instance, eventually pulled out of a close race with Gary Schmidt in District 3. Newly elected Commissioner John Breternitz also waited until the last votes were counted to declare a victory in District 1.

When the counting stopped about 10:30 p.m., 38,468 votes from polling places and the early votes had been entered for a total of 139,039 votes. There were no absentee vote results.

The next report, the final unofficial report, came at 1:15 a.m. Wednesday. That tally included 18,678 more votes from the precincts and 21,320 absentee votes. That’s a total of 180,253 votes for a 77.8 percent turnout for Washoe’s largest turnout ever.


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