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Problems persist with Monmouth election computer system (NJ)
APP.com June 3, 2009. By Bob Jordan, STAFF WRITER

Monmouth County's multimillion-dollar computerized voting tabulation system stumbled again on Tuesday night, though delays in collecting primary election tallies weren't as problematic as the extended lags that occurred during school board votes in April.

This time, results from a half-dozen towns were delayed because of problems in transmitting data from machine cartridges, County Clerk M. Claire French said on Wednesday.

Each voting machine has a cartridge that stores the ballot information after votes are cast. The cartridges are plugged into a card reader that attaches to laptop computers used by municipal clerks, who are to transmit results to central election offices, French said.

However, in several cases after the polls closed Tuesday the cartridges had to be physically transported to central election offices in Freehold, where the data was downloaded, French said.

Allentown Borough Clerk Julie Martin said the vote cartridges from her town were delivered by police to election officials in Freehold.

"I'm not sure what the problem was, but the cartridges weren't being read correctly," Martin said.

French said test runs were made on the equipment "numerous times," including on Tuesday.

"We're studying what caused these problems," French said.

The county election computer system's glitches in April were determined to be caused by a coding problem preventing data from being recognized.

Two years ago, a delay in tabulations at the county level was blamed on some of the 1,700 local election workers misunderstanding instructions. In the 2008 general election, other technical issues delayed results.

Monmouth County purchased 950 Sequoia vote machines three years ago for $8 million relying mostly on federal funds and also spent $80,000 for 60 laptops solely for municipal use on election nights.

Equipment maintenance comes to more than $20,000 annually, and the county has also spent more than $2,000 per election night for on-hand Sequoia representatives.

 



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