Monroe County vote counting winds toward finish [Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.]
(Herald-Times (Bloomington, IN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Nov. 09--4:30 p.m. update
Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins has not sent a final vote tally. She has not returned phone calls this afternoon about what is taking so long.
10:30 a.m. update
Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins said bipartisan watchers are at the Curry Building as the last ballots are being cross-checked, scanned and tallied. Equipment problems have been resolved, and final results should be forthcoming.
1:30 a.m. update
A breakdown in electronic communication between ballot scanning machines and computers totaling results in the Monroe County election was preventing election workers from adding the final 74 ballots to the running vote totals at 12:45 a.m. The technical glitch was unlikely to be resolved before regular business hours Friday, so no further update is expected until around 9 a.m. or later Friday. An attempt to obtain a complete listing of the 11 p.m. Thursday running totals was not successful.
Fewer than 100 Monroe County election ballots remained to be counted at 11 p.m. Thursday, and those were awaiting individual processing to determine voter intent. A full accounting of the election's results was expected to be announced in the early morning hours Friday.
Updated running totals released at 11 p.m. confirmed that Democrats won most Monroe County races, as has been suspected since early Wednesday morning. But it took more than 53 hours after the polls closed to state that with certainty.
PREVIOUS: Democrats extending their leads in new Monroe County vote totals
PHOTO GALLERY: Election Day and Election Night
A series of factors that began Tuesday delayed the results.
Ballot processing began six hours later than expected on Election Day, and in a few precincts, not until nearly 10 p.m., since polling places stayed open to accommodate those who joined long lines to vote before the 6 p.m. deadline.
Vote tallies from ballots cast on Election Day were the first to be posted, since most voters cast paper ballots that they scanned at their precinct polling place. Scanned images of those ballots were stored on a removable memory card that was delivered to Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins' office, where the cartridges were plugged into a tallying machine.
Partial results from 18 of Monroe's 82 precincts were announced at 8:45 p.m. By midnight, Election Day voting totals for all precincts were released to the public, although they turned out to be incomplete. At 12:46 a.m. Wednesday, Election Day results for 38,061 voters were announced by precinct. But even they were incomplete, since the 2 a.m. and 8:34 a.m. updates showed a growing number of Election Day votes.
None of those ballot tallies reflected the 21,678 absentee ballots that had been cast between late September and noon on Election Day.
Absentee ballot processing is a lengthy, time-consuming process that can't begin until all absentee voters are noted in the state-generated poll books of registered voters that are used during voter check-in on Election Day.
Ballots arriving in Robbins' mailbox as late as noon Tuesday were valid, so early Tuesday afternoon, the final list of absentee voters was distributed to all 62 polling sites.
At sites with slow spells, election workers updated the poll book and returned the list to the clerk's office, as required. But several sites were so busy all day that poll workers didn't have time to attend to that task.
Robbins deployed extra help to those sites, but processing absentee ballots didn't start until Tuesday evening. Results that included some absentee ballots started to be released at 2 a.m. Wednesday.
Then came the complicated problem of 1,299 absentee ballots with Sophia Travis listed as a Democratic candidate for one of three at-large county council seats. Travis died unexpectedly Sept. 19.
State law requires that absentee ballots be mailed immediately to voters who request them, even if the ballots will be revised.
Election workers spent daylight hours Wednesday hand-tallying votes on "Sophia ballots" until Hart InterCivic, the company that manufactures the county's voting equipment, provided a customized program that could tally those ballots properly.
Robbins and fellow election board members Lorraine Farrell and Judith Smith-Ille or their proxies pulled all-nighters twice in a row as ballot processing continued uninterrupted since polls closed Tuesday. At times, the clerk's office annex in the Curry Building was a beehive of activity, with as many as 40 bipartisan teams working on the ballots.
"We sure thank the ones who have helped us," Smith-Ille said Wednesday afternoon.
Robbins, too, was grateful to all those who helped with extended absentee ballot processing.
Thursday morning, she said, "We have approximately 2,500 left to process, and provided we have the wonderful kind of help we had yesterday, we will finish this today."
Complete results were expected to be announced in the early morning hours today, and will be posted on HeraldTimesOnline.com as soon as they are available.
(c)2012 the Herald-Times (Bloomington, Ind.)
Visit the Herald-Times (Bloomington, Ind.) at www.heraldtimesonline.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]