Technology issues plague primary

May. 07, 2014 @ 07:36 PM

Crashing websites and other technology issues plagued local boards of elections poll submissions to the state Tuesday night.

The 2014 primary election results stalled after polls closed at 7:30 p.m.

Melody Vaughan, with the Vance County Board of Elections, said they submitted their voting results around 8:30 p.m. Granville submitted around 10:30 p.m., said Tonya Burnette, Granville’s Board of Elections director.

The Warren County office struggled with the new system and was unable to finalize voting reports until 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“They [Raleigh] changed a lot of things, and the election reporting module was one of them,” Deborah Formyduval, director of Warren County Board of Elections, said.

The State Board of Elections saw several problems with the new system. It recently moved its website maintenance from a vendor to an inside agency, which caused errors in some of the numbers displayed on the website throughout the night.

State Board of Elections Director Kim Strach said she regretted errors caused frustration for voters and local boards of elections.

Final results from some precincts were not posted to the state board’s website until after midnight Wednesday.

The Tri-County saw varied turnout numbers for Tuesday's primary.

Vance County had lower voter turnout this year than in the 2010 primary election, said Kevin Kilgore, chair of the county’s Board of Elections.

About 5,100 voters participated in 2010’s primary compared with about 5,000 this year.

“There are a number of reasons for that,” he said. “We had a couple of races in 2010 that had a couple of more participants in 2010 than last year. That made it more interesting.”

This year, Vance only had two local primary races — for district attorney and for the seat held by the county Board of Education chairwoman — though there were also candidates in state and federal polls.

Granville County had increased voter turnout this year with a voter count of 7,995, up from 2010’s voter count of about 5,800.

Warren County numbers were down, but Formyduval said the turnout was still good.

“I was very pleased overall with how things went,” she said. “Even though we had a lot of new people in the precincts, I think they did an exceptional job with it being their first election.”

Local precinct volunteers and officers said the new voting system worked well during polling hours Tuesday, but their main concerned was explaining changes in voter identification requirements.

“We want to make sure that everyone has ID for 2016,” North Henderson precinct chief officer Rick Norwood said.

Beginning in 2016, state law will require voters to show photo identification at the polls. This change is a result of the Voter Information Verification Act.

Precincts workers handed out flyers explaining what would count as proper identification and assured voters if they did not have ID, they could get one for free from the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Many voters still express doubt over the law and its implications.

“I think the new system runs smoothly,” Anne Joyner said after voting at the South Henderson 1 precinct. “I am very concerned about this voter ID law. I think it’s a step in the wrong direction.”

 

Reporter Sarah Mansur contributed to this report.

 

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.