Computer woes a headache for Wilkinson election officials

tstevens@macon.comJuly 22, 2010 

  • Unofficial results

    Unofficial results for Wilkinson County local elections as of Wednesday afternoon, with a portion of votes from one precinct still uncounted. Official results are expected to be available by Friday.

    Board of Commissioners, District 2
    Alfred Gibson 59
    William Sanders 69
    James Hagins 145
    Kevin Lord 82

    Board of Commissioners, District 3
    J M Howell 197
    David Hadarits 107

A computer system crash and difficulties with a memory card created an unexpected delay in counting votes in Wilkinson County late Tuesday night.

Sonya Barfield, the county’s deputy registrar, said her office was waiting for three precincts to report when the computer server began experiencing problems and finally crashed.

“We had the server go down around 10 p.m., and we had three precincts left to report,” she said. “We’ve never had problems like this before. Normally there’s no trouble.”

The server crash forced Wilkinson County Elections Superintendent Tracy Strange to rush memory cards from the voting machines to Twiggs County, Barfield said.

Wilkinson County officials were able to get voting results from six precincts before the server crash. More votes were then counted in Twiggs County.

However, as of Wednesday afternoon, Barfield said she was unable to confirm whether officials were able to read the final votes from the last memory card.

“Last I heard, we were trying to get the last of the votes off the memory card,” she said. “The votes are from the last precinct, Bloodworth. Those were the votes we were trying to upload when the server crashed.”

Voting results in Wilkinson County led to a runoff between Democratic District 2 county commission candidates Kevin Lord and James Hagins, officials said.

Barfield said she doesn’t think there are any voting result errors due to the server crash, and if the office is unable to read the final memory card, election officials would still be able to manually count votes from a record that’s printed from the voter-booth touch screen.

“We didn’t have problems uploading the results. It’s just that the server went down when we were getting ready to do the last three,” she said. “At this point, no one has requested a recount.”

Matt Carrothers, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said Wilkinson County officials reported the crash soon after it occurred. He said he was unaware of any other counties who experienced similar problems.

“Our elections division said that there had been no other counties that reported problems with servers last night,” Carrothers said Wednesday.

To contact writer Tiffany Stevens, call 744-4213.

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