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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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8/28/2014 1:50:00 PM
County gets election tallies on state site after glitch
County Recorder Leslie Hoffman said the county hasn’t had any delays with election results for at least a decade and employees were “devastated” at the problem. “Everybody was an absolute wreck all day,” she said.
County Recorder Leslie Hoffman said the county hasn’t had any delays with election results for at least a decade and employees were “devastated” at the problem. “Everybody was an absolute wreck all day,” she said.

Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier


PRESCOTT - Yavapai County elections officials didn't get election results uploaded to the Arizona Secretary of State's website until 6 a.m. Wednesday because of a computer export problem.

However, they did get the raw results on the Yavapai County website before 9:30 p.m. on election night Tuesday, just about an hour later than they usually upload finished results.

The county has new election equipment and the tabulation all went well, Recorder Leslie Hoffman said. The trouble didn't come until the county tried to export the information to the web.

A handful of elections officials and experts from Unisyn Voting Solutions that created the OpenElect system worked all night to resolve the problem, she said. Elections officials then finished out the day Wednesday before going home.

The county hasn't had any delays with election results for at least a decade and employees were "devastated" at the problem, she said.

"Everybody was an absolute wreck all day," she said.

The county had tested the equipment six times, but it had not previously run anywhere near the 34,000 early ballots it ran through the system on Tuesday, Hoffman said.

The Secretary of State's Office sent out a news release Wednesday stating that Yavapai County is the only Arizona county using the "experimental" OpenElect system and it is not certified by the state, but Yavapai approved it for experimental use as state law allows.

The county Board of Supervisors knew the system was labeled experimental and it wasn't certified by the state, Hoffman said.

"It's like a pilot program," she said.

State elections officials later explained that the equipment is certified by the federal government and the lack of certification is not necessarily connected to the election night problem.

The county sought state certification in April but because of the equipment's high-tech nature, it doesn't fit into the outdated state law requirements for things like hand counting, explained Kris Kingsmore, assistant state elections director who also chairs the certification committee.

"This is real forward-thinking technology," Kingsmore said. "We do as a committee like this equipment. It's just that Arizona law has to catch up a little bit."

Secretary of State Ken Bennett added, "We have a lot of confidence in Yavapai County."

Yavapai is seeking legislative changes to allow certification of the higher-tech equipment that requires less manual work, Hoffman said.

Meanwhile the county working with the manufacturers to figure out what went wrong Tuesday. They are checking the system's memory to see if it might have just overloaded, for example.

"At least we didn't affect any races," she said.

That might not be the case in Cochise County.

The Secretary of State sent out a news release saying technical problems with Cochise ballot tabulations will cause the vote numbers to change, and that could change the outcome of local races.

Cochise numbers have been removed from the state's online tally.

By the end of the business day Wednesday, counties throughout Arizona had a total of 143,484 early and 18,914 provisional ballots to still count.

That included 1,894 early ballots and 507 provisional ballots in Yavapai County.

Provisional ballots are ballots that need to be hand checked because of possible discrepancies.



Follow Joanna Dodder on Twitter @joannadodder.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Article comment by: Cassandra of Yavapai County

Why was the County testing more expensive equipment during a statewide primary that decided many races before the General Election?

If the state is so concerned about the cost of conducting elections, why is it investing in more expensive electronic equipment that will need constant servicing? In more expensive programing that has to be constantly debugged and can be hacked ten ways from Sunday? In fancy statewide websites that present the same information five different ways but do nothing to improve ballot security, privacy, and voter confidence?

This isn't just an Arizona problem, but it has to be fixed before our elections become as meaningless as they are in Europe.

Computers are tools, not solutions. They analyze data, not people. They can speed processing and make more failsafe procedures feasible, but they are more opaque and more subject to manipulation.

Simple and transparent may be slower, but paranoia is incurable.


Posted: Sunday, August 31, 2014
Article comment by: What County Website ?


Prescott election office says:

"...However, they did get the raw results on the Yavapai County website before 9:30 p.m. on election night Tuesday..."

The data did not show on the web until early
Wednesday morning?




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