Election officials in southwest Iowa’s Pottawattamie County are having to recount some four-thousand ballots from Tuesday’s primary election — by hand. Deputy county auditor Gary Herman says it became apparent early on that something was wrong.
Herman says “We suspected problems last night when we counted the absentee ballots. The totals didn’t look like we expected they would turn out because we had offices where there were incumbents running against first-time candidates who were relatively unknown and the unknown person beat the incumbent. That’s not a normal thing to have happen.”
Herman says vote-tampering is -not- suspected but a mechanical or computer snafu is more likely. He says the exact malfunction is still uncertain but there’s no wrongdoing suspected — “It’s just a mistake someplace we think. We just don’t know where it is.” Herman says the county, where Council Bluffs is located, was breaking new ground in this primary.
They were using brand new and “relatively untested” optical scanning-style voting machines and Herman says “We were expecting some problems, just not quite this scope.” He says the recount is expected to take all day — perhaps into tomorrow. An official at the Iowa Secretary of State’s office says at least 20 other counties statewide used similar voting machines Tuesday and none of them reported the problems seen in Pottawattamie County.
A new computer system that was supposed to help speed up election results in Black Hawk County apparently had the opposite impact due to a glitch. Black Hawk County Auditor Grant Veeder says there was a problem with collecting the results. He says they get their results via modem from the precincts directly to the election office, but there was some problem with the modems at the courthouse.
Veeder says the failure of the modems required the results to be hand delivered. Veeder says the precincts had to take the memory cards out of the machines and deliver them directly to the courthouse rather than uploading them via modem.
Veeder says once the memory cards were brought in, the information then had to be fed in and processed. The delay meant the final numbers for races in Black Hawk County weren’t available until just before midnight.