Elections fraught with technical issues

By Cecilia Fox - cfox@aimmediamidwest.com

MIAMI COUNTY — The 2018 midterm elections in Miami County were marked by technical difficulties, including malfunctioning voting machines and difficulty with the county’s vote counting system.

Miami County Board of Elections Chairman Dave Fisher emphasized that no votes were compromised by the technical issues.

“Things during the day went relatively smoothly. We had some machine issues, but nothing that compromised any votes,” he said. “We didn’t have any major issues last night, but we had issues that should not have happened.”

Some unofficial results were unavailable until early Wednesday due to technical issues with some of the county’s voting machines.

Fisher stressed that the the voting machine cards were reading accurately, but the data could not be transferred to the counting system. This required staff to enter votes from three precincts in Tipp City, Bethel Township and Troy by hand.

Fisher also said that several touch-screen voting machines failed while the polls were open Tuesday, prompting Board of Elections staff to replace “quite a few” of them with backup machines.

Fisher also pointed out some human errors, like the exclusion of some early votes in the first batch of results released, but said that “everybody did a good job.” The missed early votes were later added to the totals Tuesday night.

He added that the technical issues highlight the need for new voting equipment in the county.

“The equipment’s old and tired,” Fisher said. “We’re working with 12-, 13-year-old equipment and there’s not a lot of support for it. It’s outdated. End of story.”

The county is set to be reimbursed up to $1,096,490 by the state and has received four quotes for new equipment ranging in cost from about $507,000 to about $2 million.

Fisher said he was unaware of any incorrect polling place addresses sent out to voters, but noted that the Board of Elections makes frequent changes to polling places based on availability and accessibility. He added that voters can always check the board’s website to find a polling place and that poll workers at any polling place can direct voters to the appropriate location.

Unofficial voter turnout was “well under” 50 percent of eligible Miami County voters, Fisher said. He added that early voting numbers were high, which he thought would indicate higher day-of turnout.

“With the early vote numbers that we had, my prediction was 52-55 percent. We’re not close to that,” he said. “There was a lot of buzz about this election, but the buzz didn’t turn into folks getting out and voting.”

Fisher estimated that about 35,000 ballots were cast in the election, as well as 651 provisional ballots. There are 73,342 registered voters in Miami County.

By Cecilia Fox


Reach Cecilia Fox at cfox@aimmediamidwest.com.

Reach Cecilia Fox at cfox@aimmediamidwest.com.