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Oklahoma elections: Software glitch blamed for delays in reporting results

Oklahoma election official says he is embarrassed that the problem caused a two-hour delay in posting election results on the agency's website.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT AND MEGAN ROLLAND Published: June 28, 2012
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State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said he is embarrassed by a software glitch that delayed posting results of Tuesday's elections on the agency's website for about two hours.

The numbers were correct, but a problem occurred in the software when the early and absentee voting numbers were transferred to the website, he said Wednesday.

“We're going to get to the bottom of this,” Ziriax said. “I'm unhappy, and I'm embarrassed by it.”

It's at least the second glitch in four elections for the software for the new $16.7 million system, which went online earlier this year with election officials promising faster election results and more data.

Ziriax said election officials noticed the problem almost immediately and decided to postpone adding updated election figures until the software problem was found. Although the numbers were correct, the software problem erroneously reported in some races that all the precincts had been reported.

“This is the displaying of results on a website,” he said. “It is not the tabulation of results. It is not the counting of ballots.”

Ziriax said he is talking with the software firm, SOE, which is a subcontractor of Hart InterCivic, the company that sold the devices to Oklahoma.

“We need to find out why it happened, and then we'll take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again,” he said.

Ziriax said he doesn't know if switching the software firm is a possibility. It's the second problem with the software since the new devices started being used in March. It didn't show all the precincts reporting during the presidential preferential primary and a special election.

Numbers resumed being updated on the Election Board's website shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday, or two hours after the polls closed.

The way the system is set up, Oklahoma and Tulsa counties have separate precincts for their absentee and early voting ballots. The other 75 counties report the absentee and early votes along with the Election Day votes for the precincts where the votes are from, Ziriax said.

Turnout

About 19.6 percent, or 167,419, of the state's 851,759 registered Republicans voted in Tuesday's primary elections. An exact count of how many Democrats voted Tuesday is hard to determine because there was no statewide Democratic contest on the ballot.

Four years ago, 17.2 percent of registered Republicans and 18.6 percent of registered Democrats voted.

In 2010, with heated gubernatorial contests involving both Democrats and Republicans, about 30 percent of registered Republicans voted in the primary elections. About 26 percent of registered Democrats voted.

Ziriax said he hopes the software problem will be taken care of by the Aug. 28 runoff primary elections so that everything runs smoothly for the Nov. 6 general election. A larger turnout is expected in the general election because presidential races draw much more interest.

Keith Gaddie, a University of Oklahoma political science professor, said the glitches in the new system are noticeable because the previous system seemed to have worked flawlessly for the past 20 years.

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