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Computer glitch slows release of results (NC)
Citizen Times. November 6, 2008. by Dale Neal

ASHEVILLE – While election workers reported markedly few problems Tuesday, a computer glitch kept the balloting results from posting on the Buncombe County Election Services Web site until about five hours after the polls closed.

“I think it's fair to say that everyone, no matter where you were, was frustrated with whatever that glitch was,” said Jones Byrd, chairman of the Buncombe board of elections.

While Republicans and Democrats waited at their respective parties at the Grove Park Inn and the Crowne Plaza, results for the local races were released in paper form at about 9:30 p.m., two hours after the polls had closed. Reporters converged on the downtown election board office to gather hard copies rather than wait for the online posting, which came after midnight.

Buncombe was the last of North Carolina's 100 counties to post its results on the state Board of Election Web site.

“It was frustrating and disappointing, not having those numbers,” said Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy. “We hope we can look at that going forward, testing and retesting the system. I don't believe anything was done wrong or dishonestly, but it doesn't help when you're trying to convince people to go out and vote.”

The cause of the malfunction was unknown. Trena Parker, election services director, did not return phone calls on Wednesday.

“My understanding is that it was some sort of communication with the state board of elections,” Byrd said. “I'm not aware of any glitches in the numbers, and things went smoothly at the polls. Poll workers said it was one of the smoothest national elections they had ever worked.”

Byrd praised the work of Parker and her staff in trying to resolve the problem. “We were trying to get people numbers and get them printed,” he said. “The easiest way usually is just to look at the Web site. That's faster than everything else.”

Parker serves under the board, composed of Byrd, fellow Democrat Linda Smith and Republican Robert Van Wagner.

Call Dale at 828-232-5970 or e-mail DNeal@CITIZEN-TIMES.com.


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