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Changed plan helped slow vote count in Pr. George's, official said

Washington Post Editors

Prince George's residents had to wait until almost 5 a.m. Wednesday to get the final tallies in Tuesday's primaries. County elections chief Alisha L. Alexander said it was a matter of good intentions gone awry.

She said the office will revamp its plans for the Nov. 2 General Election after Tuesday's slow vote count that saw only about 50 percent of the vote tallied by 2 a.m.

It wasn't a matter of turnout: Fewer voters -- about 22 percent -- cast ballots Tuesday than in the 2006 primary, when more than 25 percent turned out.

Alexander said that she had decided to encourage elections judges at larger precincts -- about 150 of 223 -- to drive their data cards to the headquarters in Upper Marlboro rather than try to send in the results by computer modem.

About 150 precincts brought their data cards to the headquarters, where the staff was able to upload about three precincts an hour, starting shortly after 8 p.m.

"We had a steady stream of results but it was slow," Alexander said.

She said she had decided to try this system because of the large numbers of candidates and concerns that there might be very close races whose results would be challenged.

In November, modems will be used across the county, and after the data are transmitted, election judges will drive the material to the election board's headquarters, she said.

By Miranda S. Spivack  |  September 15, 2010; 5:31 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , Miranda Spivack , Prince George's County  
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