Equipment glitch delays Escambia County vote tally

Published 5:38 am Monday, November 8, 2004

By By ANNA M. LEE Managing Editor
With 12,408 ballots cast, 57.8 percent of Escambia County's registered voters turned out for Tuesday's election.
After the polls closed at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, an equipment glitch left county officials to rely on the help of neighboring Conecuh County to tally the more than 12,000 ballots.
At the end of a voting day, each polling place removes from its voting machines a cartridge that contains all of the voting data for that election. Those cartridges are then transported to the Escambia County Courthouse in Brewton where they are downloaded into the computer system and compiled to produce the county's complete election results.
According to county administrator Tony Sanks, on Tuesday night the county's memory pack receiver -- used to download each polling place's data -- did not function properly because of some bad circuitry.
Conecuh County agreed to let Escambia borrow its equipment to tally the votes, but Escambia officials would have to wait until Conecuh County election results were complete. Late Tuesday night an Escambia County Sheriff's Deputy retrieved the equipment from Conecuh County, and Escambia County officials began downloading voting data at about 10:30 p.m. There were no more problems, and the whole process was completed by about 11:15 p.m., Sanks said.
Prior to borrowing the equipment, officials had begun tallying results by hand, using printed tapes (like calculator tape) produced at each polling place. Because hand calculation leaves much more opportunity for error, Sanks said, the hand-tallied results were discarded and all votes were counted electronically once the equipment was available.