ELECTION 2019: Sean Cudahy reports on problems counting votes in Fairborn

Election results slow, then change in Greene County

New voting equipment in Greene County led to a delay in reporting results Tuesday night, and a separate problem led to a special emergency meeting of the elections board on Wednesday, officials said.

Voters in Greene County on Tuesday weighed in on 71 races for public office and decided charter amendments for two municipalities, 13 tax issues and three local options for businesses.

This was the first election in Greene County using new voting equipment from Dominion Voting Systems, and there were no malfunctions with the new tablets and tabulating machines, according to Llyn McCoy, elections board director.

“I think the election went really well as far as what our voters saw with the equipment. It was easy for our voters, it was easy for our poll workers. It was easy for our rovers,” she said.

The votes were delivered from the polling locations to the board of elections office Tuesday night on 605 USB flash drives. But votes on two flash drives delivered from the Tri-County Youth and Family Center polling location in Fairborn could not be accessed.

McCoy said Wednesday morning her staff figured out why they were getting error messages.

“There were old files on the flash drives. As a security precaution, it won’t let you upload those drives,” she said.

The elections board met in an emergency session Wednesday afternoon to approve the “Amended Unofficial Final Election Results Report,” which included 53 votes that were not tabulated Tuesday night.

The updated numbers changed the vote totals but didn’t change any of the results of the three Fairborn races, the county-wide parks levy or the county educational service center board race.

Worth noting is the Fairborn City Council race, in which voters were asked to choose three of five candidates. There were only two votes’ difference between the third and fourth candidates — Tana Stanton and Clinton Allen. If the results stand for the official count, an automatic recount of the votes will be triggered, as the difference is less than half of 1%.

Elections officials posted results publicly on the board’s website as ballots and votes were tallied on computers. Updates came slowly and the final, unofficial results were not reported until approximately 11:30 p.m., more than an hour after vote tallies were finalized in other counties.

McCoy said the delay was because elections officials only had one tabulating machine working.

“We were supposed to have two machines that would allow us to tabulate last night. While two tested and worked perfectly prior to election day, election night unfortunately one of them just didn’t work and it was too late to get any more equipment,” McCoy said.

There were other problems reported with new voting system. The number and percentage of precincts counted were not initially shown with the vote tallies in Greene and Montgomery counties. That made it impossible to get an idea how many more votes needed to be counted and to gauge how close or distant races actually were.

Officials said on election night the feature on the new equipment that tracks precincts counted was not turned on and that data was not automatically included in the initial results.

“We have new equipment, so there are always bumps in the road, and last night we had a few of those bumps with our election night reporting,” McCoy said.

McCoy said they will get more tabulating machines as back-ups, and they don’t anticipate running into the same problems in the future.

The elections board meets Nov. 19 to conduct an official count and to certify the election results.

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