The staff at the Orange County Board of Elections were as frustrated as anyone else with the State Board’s website glitches after Tuesday’s primary votes were in.
Maybe more so.
“We pride ourselves on being one of the first in the larger counties to be able to get our results out on the Web. But because of the delay in the State Board’s software, it was right at 8 o’clock before we were able to release our absentee results to the Web. And normally, those are released at exactly 7:30.”
That’s Director Tracy Reams of the Orange County Board of Elections.
“On election night, the fastest, speediest way to get the results is to go to our website,” says Reams, “because, as they’re coming in, I’m continuously uploading.”
Reams said her precinct officials did a great job getting the vote results into the office on Tuesday night in a timely fashion. Getting those results out to the greater public, however, was, at times, beyond her office’s control.
Reams says the Orange County Board of Elections typically will have all 44 precincts reported by no later than 8:30 p.m.
It didn’t work out that way on Tuesday night.
“Because we did not have those results on our website like we have in the past, we were getting calls in, wanting to know where those results were,” says Reams. “So while we were just fielding calls, letting them know, ‘just be patient, it’ll be there,’ it sort of delayed us a little bit.”
WRAL reported on Wednesday that the problem that affected county elections boards across North Carolina was caused by in-house software being used by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, which ended a contract with election-results vendor SOE Software Corporation last year.
Prior to that, the State Board had worked with SOE since 2007.
On Tuesday, the state website initially reported incorrect data about the number of precincts reporting, which drew the ire of election watchers near and far, thanks to a few high-profile races such as the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, and singer Clay Aiken’s Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to Reams, her Orange County office fielded numerous phone calls from frustrated election watchers, mostly from the media.
But there were also calls, as well as office visits, from political campaign workers. And there were calls from voters who just wanted to know what was going on.
Reams says that while all county election boards were aware that the state was now using in-house software, the problems that arose on Tuesday came as a surprise.
She told WCHL that the Orange County elections board did some test uploads in weeks leading up to primary night, and none of the results led anyone to believe there would be any difficulties.
Reams says she hopes that recent assurances from the State Board of Elections hold true, so that similar problems won’t occur in November.