Election night-mare

New, slow electronic system delayed results for hours


It took longer than usual for Nassau County election results to come in this year than it has in previous elections, due apparently to the new electronic voting machine system that was recently implemented.

According to William Biamonte, the Democratic Commissioner for the county Board of Elections, the new voting machines created delays that stopped many results from being reported for hours.

Biamonte explained that each voting machine has a flash drive inside of it for storing data — scans of ballots along with the results tabulated by each machine. These are removed, sealed and delivered to the Board of Elections by Nassau County Police officers.

The drives are then plugged into one of five specialized computers the Board of Elections has, which makes up its Election Management System (EMS). The five computers are connected to a central computer which analyzes and tabulates the data from all the drives.

This was the cause of the delay, Biamonte said, because it takes approximately three minutes for a computer to scan the drive.

“The last flash drive arrived at the Board of Elections a little past midnight, because you always have stragglers at the end,” said Biamonte. “We had a backup of flash drives — a considerable backup, because we have 1,170 election districts in this county. [It took] three and a half hours to finish the scanning of these things.”

The five computers that the county has were approved by the New York State Board of Elections. After the primary elections last month, the county wanted to upgrade to 10 computers, but didn’t have the approval from the state.

“So what we did was we took the five computers we had and added solid state processors, which are much faster processors, to each of those computers,” said Biamonte. “So it was scanning faster than on primary night, but we had four times as much data on that drive than we did on primary night.

“So it’s a totally frustrating system that we’re paying a fortune for and I am not happy with the way it works at all,” he added.

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