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No ‘super’ glitches reported for new voting system (TX)
The Daily News. November 4, 2009. By T.J. Aulds
Original: http://www.galvnews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=2dfb9d86700788db

Even with the expected light turnout for Tuesday’s election, casting ballots got off to a shaky start at some polling places in Galveston County.

Computer problems and a crash of the state’s voter registration database were blamed for delays in Galveston and League City, the county’s election coordinator said.

Still, results were released faster than in past elections, and turnout in the county, while just 6.25 percent, was more than double the state average.

Tuesday was the first use of a super precinct voting system in Galveston County. In that system, voters can cast their ballots at any of the county’s 40 polling places. The system is dependent on computer access to key databases, which proved less than reliable at some places.

Voters who lined up at the Galveston school district building were delayed when the district’s Internet firewalls blocked computer access to the county’s central voting system. A firewall is software that restricts Internet access. It often is used on campuses to prohibit access to adult sites or to popular social networking sites, such as Facebook.com or MySpace.com.

Douglas Godinich, the county’s election coordinator, said it took the county’s technicians about 30 minutes to work around the firewall blocks.

There were similar computer glitches at Bay Harbour United Methodist Church and Harborview Care Center in League City. Both are new polling places, and voting was delayed about 40 minutes, Godinich said.

While the county conducted connectivity tests at each of the polling places before the election, the testing was done one place at a time.

Only when all of the polling places signed on at about the same time did the connectivity problems crop up, Godinich said.

There also were problems when the polls opened because the state’s database of registered voters crashed.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Ashley Burton said the Texas Election Administration Management system was back online within 30 minutes.

“You kind of get those problems each election, but they are easily resolved,” Burton said.

As the votes were counted, one unexpected glitch occurred when the returns showed that all the votes had been counted — even though less than half of the precincts had been counted.

Election officials said the error occurred because the tally sheet that totals votes was based on the usual 121 voting precincts, rather than the 40 super precincts. The results page issued by the county showed that 100 percent of the votes had been counted, even though the percentage was far less.

Turnout across the county was light, which was not unexpected, Godinich said.

Still, because of the local issues on the ballot, Godinich predicted Galveston County would top the state’s prediction of 3 percent voter turnout. More than 11,000 voters in Galveston County — a 6.25 percent turnout rate — went to the polls.

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