A computing programming error at Erie County Board Elections interfered with the timely release of primary election results Tuesday, according to Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Ralph M. Mohr.
The glitch required the retrieval of backup data from roughly 500 balloting machines, but shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday, 50 of them still had yet to be retrieved, Mohr said.
The Board of Elections reported complete results after 11 p.m. Tuesday.
A week ago, Board of Elections staff ran a test of the program used to produce election results to make sure things would run smoothly on election night, Mohr said.
“For some reason, the test results we entered into the program reappeared tonight,” Mohr said.
“Each candidate gets the same number for the test data, so it doesn’t change the margin of the victory, but it changes the result that we have. So, if a candidate is shown as being ahead by, maybe, 500 votes, we don’t know if they’re actually ahead by 2,000 to 2,500, or if they’re ahead 10 to 510. It’s the same margin, but the results are incorrect,” Mohr added.
Once Board of Elections staff recognized the problem, a decision was made to shut down the system rather than report false numbers and utilize the backup chips that are in each of the voting machines to report the results.
“Each voting machine has an election data stick which contains the result from that machine, and we enter the stick into the computer and it will report the results out. That’s what we’re in the process of doing,” Mohr said at about 10:30 p.m.
Mohr showed a Buffalo News reporter a box of the blue and green data sticks in a room where programmers were waiting for the remaining 50 sticks to be retrieved from voting machines in the towns of Boston and Brant before they could complete Tuesday’s primary election results.