Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Election went OK, mostly, county boss says

Tuesday’s general election went more smoothly than the Sept. 2 primary election in Pima County, but was far from perfect, county Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said Friday.

Procedural changes begun after the primary addressed some major issues encountered at the polls and the county’s vote tabulation center, Huckelberry said in a memo.

Those changes included a more rapid delivery of electronic vote-scanning devices and touch-screen machines to the county’s tabulation center, 1301 S. Mission Road, that resulted in quicker vote results released to the public.

The county still lagged the rest of the state’s 14 counties in getting results tabulated and released, due mainly to the discontinuation of transmitting results from each of the county’s 373 polling places and physically delivering them to the Mission Road complex. That was done because of concerns that a third party could intercept results sent over telephone lines, change them and send bogus results to the county.

Huckelberry described the conduct of Tuesday’s election as “efficient, effective and secure.”

Here’s what didn’t work so well, according to a performance evaluation released by his office.

• Additional ballots were delivered to at least one precinct to avoid a possible shortage.

• On two occasions, officials at churches used as polling places removed election directional signs. The signs were replaced.

• Aging vote-scanning devices broke or showed discrepancies in ballot counts and had to be replaced on Election Day.

• A polling place official forgot a door key and a delay of 20 minutes beyond the 6 a.m. precinct opening time occurred.

• A “relatively high number” of paper jams occurred with optical scanning devices, resulting in 21 being replaced.

“While this failure rate is relatively small, it is significant and undesirable,” Huckelberry said.

• Power failures were reported with the scanning devices due to bad connections between the machines and power sources. That caused the devices to operate on battery power and run down.

• Some on-site ballot-printing devices failed. The county will review whether the vendor met county specifications for quality control and paper quality.

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