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Canvass of Craven election votes delayed at least a day (NC)
Sun Journal. November 17, 2008. by Sue Book

Another day of auditing Craven County's 2008 election returns left vote numbers unchanged and still unofficial.

Gary Bartlett, director of the State Board of Elections, came to Craven County on Monday to join state staff already working to help certify the vote.

About 3:30 p.m. Bartlett said an official canvass would be premature and met with the Craven County Board of Elections to announce that it would be delayed at least another day.

Of the 44,684 ballots cast in Craven County, 342 remain to be reconciled. They were early voting ballots from the No. 7 Township Fire and Rescue one-stop voting site.

That number of votes would not change the outcome of any race, Bartlett said, but "we are digging into the details to try to find out about the reconciliation process for these 342 votes. We believe we owe it to the people of Craven County and to the elections process to work until we find the answer so people have confidence in their vote."

"This is what a canvass is for," Bartlett said "It is one of the safeguards built into the election process."

Reconciliation is the process of matching the number of voters to the number of ballots cast.

A total of 7,575 authorizations to vote were identified for the No. 7 Township Fire and Rescue voting site which was set up for electronic early voting, said Rosemary Blizzard, the state district technician. But staff can find ballots, tapes, flash cards or personal electronic ballot records for only 7,233.

"I am satisfied with where we are now but I want to make sure every vote counted," said Ray Wood, Craven County Board of Elections secretary. "That's my precinct. It could be my vote."

After going through all the ballot material left in Craven County Elections office, Bartlett sent elections staff to the county warehouse where voting machines are stored to go through every ballot box, emergency bin, and bag with ballot information to look for the media to reconcile the vote.

Bartlett said the reasons for the different totals are probably a "garden variety," including "people getting fed up with the wait and walking out. We will continue until we exhaust every resource to determine the cause."

Bill Miner, Craven County elections board member, asked: "There are no votes lost, no votes missing; nothing except the paperwork is not reconciled"

Bartlett said, "There are some management issues. A report will be started as soon as we conclude the audit."

Delayed election night returns are unrelated to the audit, Bartlett said. "The software worked as it was supposed to. What it looks like is there was a code change made on the computer downstairs 20 minutes after the changes made by Print Elect."

He said it was "a very minor issue," one box not checked to allow compatibility between voting and reporting software, which would have been noted if proper pre-testing had been done at the elections office.

Unofficial results increased by 3,386 votes during the audit and Blizzard and Bartlett said all other precincts are reconciled.


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