Posted on 30. May, 2012 by Brian Knox
As has been the case on election nights the past few years, I took my normal spot at the county election administration office Tuesday. My job is to get the results as soon as they are available and relay them back to our webmaster to get them posted ASAP so the fine folks of Wise County can keep up with nearly up-to-the-minute results.
But I sensed trouble in the air from the moment I stepped into the office Tuesday around 7 p.m., the same times polls across the county were closing.
As the time ticked on, it became apparent there was some technical issues at work. At 8 p.m., we still didn’t have early vote totals. The problem was with the ballots by mail. The paper ballots are scanned in, and a computer program reads the ballot and tabulates the results. I can’t say specifically what the problem was, but the bottom line is the computer wasn’t reading all the ballots.
As election judges came in with the machines, they began to pile up in the hall way as election administration staff members worked feverishly at getting the mail in ballots to cooperate. They moved on, tabulating the early votes, then the election day totals, but the numbers couldn’t be “final” because there was still the matter of those nearly 300 ballots that had yet to be counted.
As the midnight hour approached, a different scanning machine was brought in. Finally, after some initial problems, it worked. The ballots were scanned, the results were tabulated, and the finals were in (well, the results still must be canvassed before they are “officially” final).
I know the night didn’t go as well as many in that elections office had hoped it would, but I must say that it was a hard working bunch I saw trying to tackle the problem. They knew people were waiting on the results, and there was a sense of urgency the whole night as they addressed the problem.
It’s rare in life that things go perfectly smooth, even on election night. But the great thing about life is tomorrow’s a new day. And in the election world, that mean’s they’ve got a runoff to prepare for.