Glitch delays vote totals in Pinellas County

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Election officials were working out a telecommunications glitch Tuesday and had to have precinct results driven to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office in Largo to tally the Primary Day results, officials said via Jared Leone.

Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said that the issue could have been with the phone lines. Computer servers, which have been used since 2008, are tested before each election and there were no problems, Clark said. There is even a backup server as a fail safe.

Still, officials had to go to Plan B, Clark said, which included driving in the memory sticks containing voter information from 299 precincts earlier than expected to be counted.

Clark said poll advisers told elections officials about the issue shortly after 7 p.m. Technicians tried the backup server before finding out it also was not working. Clark said there is no reason for why the error occurred.

Final precinct votes were posted on the supervisor of elections website by around 10 p.m.

Aside from technical issues, there were no other problems at the polls, Clark said.

“Very smooth election day,” Clark said. “Unfortunately voting at the polling places was very very light.”

About 20 poll workers sat in a second-floor room pulling mail-in ballots from their green envelopes Tuesday, unfolding and then stacking them to be sent by dumbwaiter downstairs to be counted.

They were looking for voter errors, including if two ballots are in a single envelope or if more than one candidate is selected, Whitlock said.

Sometimes voters choose one candidate then cross out that box and select another, Whitlock said. In those cases another ballot is created with only one selection made. Over and under votes are tallied as ballots are counted. Those numbers are not available until the day after the election, Whitlock said.

Whitlock said nearly 16 percent of voters used mail ballots. She estimated another 6 percent went to the polls on Primary Election Day.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.