Voters in a New Jersey community were recently surprised to find the outcome of a school board race may be reversed months after their votes were cast.
According to the Washington Examiner, an investigation of Ocean Township’s school board election revealed that equipment provided by Election Systems and Software (ES&S) had incorrectly counted ballots.
Race decided by 20 votes
That fact became apparent following a post-election audit that revealed tabulation errors in six voting districts, a problem which was ultimately traced to “USB flash media being loaded twice into the results reporting module.”
Thanks to the error, school board candidate Steve Clayton was shown to have gotten 3,523 votes compared with 3,503 for rival Jeffrey Weinstein.
However, the audit subsequently showed that instead of winning by 20 votes, Weinstein had actually lost the race by a single vote.
The New Jersey Globe reported that New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin’s office has ordered the election results to be recertified.
ES&S explained in a statement that its machines should have caught the error, and that corrective measures are being taken to ensure they do so in the future.
Company attributes problem to human error
The statement characterized what happened as an “isolated incident [that] occurred due to a human procedural error,” information that “an audit of the system yielded.”
The company says it “will reinstall the election management system, which will ensure the system is optimized to detect and block duplication of USB flash media results.”
“At Monmouth County’s request, ES&S recently reviewed the county’s election data, which revealed that a technician inadvertently loaded votes twice in error,” the statement continued.
“Typically our software blocks this from happening. Unfortunately, a human error in a July software reinstallment missed the step that would have flagged the mistake,” it went on to state. The election machine company stressed that last year’s problems were “isolated to Monmouth County” and unlikely to crop up elsewhere.
“The integrity of elections are ultimately protected by a series of checks and balances, and we’re grateful for an audit that revealed this human error,” ES&S professed.
In response to the machines not catching the error, the company says it “will reinstall the election management system, which will ensure the system is optimized to detect and block duplication of USB flash media results.”
What’s more, the firm also pledged that it would “work with Monmouth County to ensure all necessary steps are taken to ensure election accuracy.”