Published: Friday, November 2, 2007
Counting room door to be closed at elections office
Elections officials said the problem has been
LISBON Sometimes, it's good to close the door and have peace and quiet.
That's what the Columbiana County Board of Elections plans to do Tuesday.
The board says it has resolved the fiasco that happened in the May primary.
The board released what are called "complete but unofficial" results that were inflated in the spring. The official counts are released days after the election.
Almost all of the outcomes of races and issues were correct, but the vote tallies and percentages of the votes were inflated in reports that were released to reporters.
Elections director Lois Gall discovered the problem election night and tried to notify papers and television stations.
Larry Bowersock, the Democratic chairman of the board, said Thursday that one new step will be that the door to the counting room will be closed to prevent distractions.
Gall, who oversees the counting, has said she was distracted during the counting. The counting is done in a small room inside the board's headquarters.
Gall said that overall, the votes will be counted and information released the way it always has.
But, she added, "We're going to slow down the procedure."
One change will be that the counting room will be off-limits to everyone except the board, its workers, and workers from the county's computer company, Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb.
The board and workers also will take a look at the results before releasing them to the public.
Candidates, the media, and the public wait for results behind two counters on either side of a large work area where ballot boxes are delivered and opened.
Board members and workers are often besieged with phone calls, questions or minor problems as election workers bring in ballots.
The board now uses memory cards in electronic voting machines that count each paper ballot.
Gall said the board has used and will use a check-off sheet to track which precincts have been counted.
Bowersock said he still believes that during the primary, the computer company failed to clear previous precinct counts from the computer before tallying more ballots.
Jerry Ward, a Republican member of the board, said the good thing about the county's machines is that if the electronic counting system should fail, the board can count the paper ballots to get correct totals.
Gall said the county plans to release the initial results as usual. The board normally runs the results of the first 10 precincts that report and distributes paper copies. Updates are run about every hour or so throughout the night until all the ballots are counted.