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Cheh: Real Test of Election Board Comes After Polls Close

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) said she felt voting was going smoothly in the District, especially given some precincts had more than 50 percent turnout by midday.

"It's phenomenal," she said.

Cheh, a constitutional law professor who chairs a special committee investigating what caused the initial release of erroneous results in September's primary, said a few paper ballot scanners, known as optical scan machines, broke down at several precincts but ballots were recorded on other machines working properly and voting was not interrupted.

But Cheh said the real test for the city's elections board will occur tonight when votes are counted. Cheh's committee issued a preliminary report on the Sept. 9 primary problems that sharply criticized the board and the company that supplies its voting equipment, Sequia.

She said the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics has put in place several new procedures to prevent the release of incorrect results, which occurred several hours after polls closed in September. The tally sheets included thousands of phantom write-in votes that inflated vote totals in many contests and cast doubt on the results.

By Elissa Silverman

Cheh said that the elections board has decided to release results in smaller increments throughout the night. Elections officials indicated that the move would help them catch any type of glitch as they double-checked results.

"I think that makes sense," Cheh said.

As well, the cartridges from the optical scan and touch screen machines will be fed into two different servers, so the results can be compared and matched. And precinct captains at every polling place will be asked to do a written tally of ballots cast. That number will be compared to the electronic data on the cartridges.

Cheh said she will be at the board tonight to monitor the vote counting process.

By Marcia Davis  |  November 4, 2008; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  2008 District Election  
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