Website glitches garble NC election results

sharrison@charlotteobserver.comMay 6, 2014 

Election returns from Tuesday’s primary were marred by numerous glitches with the North Carolina Board of Elections web site, with vote totals sometimes vanishing intermittently.

The problem began shortly after polls closed at 7:30 p.m.

The first results posted on the state’s web site showed that all precincts were in, even though the first returns were only for early voting and absentee ballots.

At one point Tuesday night, the listing of precincts in which vote totals were complete vanished from the Web site.

Michael Bitzer, a professor of political science at Catawba College, told News Channel 14 Tuesday that the problems were an “epic failure.”

Josh Lawson, a spokesman for the State Board of Elections, said the initial display of precincts reporting on the board’s website incorrectly included numbers for absentee ballots, causing the number of precincts reported to be inflated.

State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach said late Tuesday she regretted that the errors caused frustration for voters and county boards of elections. Strach stressed that the underlying vote totals reported were accurate.

After using a vendor for years to maintain its website, the elections board recently moved the responsibilities for programming the site into the agency. Tuesday's primaries were the first election using that new system. Strach said programmers are working to resolve the issues. She says her agency is committed to improving the functionality of its website.

Problems were not limited to technology. Earlier in the day, Lawson also said a van struck three people at a Concord church, which doubled as a Cabarrus County polling place. He said two of the people were in critical condition.

People also had sporadic delays getting to their polling place, including the Wake County location at Blue Jay Point County Park, which at least one person complained was too small to handle the crowds.

Tuesday’s primary was North Carolina’s first election under the state’s new controversial voting law, which will require photo IDs starting in 2016.

At polling places Tuesday, precinct workers asked voters whether they had a government-issued photo ID. If they said they didn’t, they were asked to sign a statement acknowledging they will need one to vote in 2016. They were also given information on how to obtain a state-approved ID.

Other provisions of the law were in effect Tuesday.

In the past, voters who came to the wrong precinct were allowed to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots will now only count if they are cast in the precinct where a voter lives and is registered.

In addition, same-day registration during early voting was stopped, starting with this primary. The number of early-voting days was also reduced, from 17 to 10 days.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

STATEWIDE RESULTS (including congressional races)

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