Computer Glitch Leads to Vote Error

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Spencer Daily Herald Staff Writer

Officials today will recount more than a quarter of the precincts in Lake County after an election night vote-counting snafu that has Democrats in an uproar.

County Clerk Willard Helander said a computer error Tuesday night affected six judges up for retention, so only the votes in relation to those races will be recounted.

But Lake County Democrats insist all the ballots in all the races from the affected 108 precincts should be recounted - not just the judicial retention votes - to make sure other mistakes were not made.

Democratic Party leaders are threatening to contest the election results in court if ballots in the precincts are not recounted in their entirety. There are a total of 403 precincts in the county.

Helander said late Thursday the problem was detected about midnight Tuesday as final election results were tabulated. Helander had already left the county building in Waukegan to celebrate her re-election victory with supporters at her campaign headquarters.

One pin from the cable connecting the ballot reader to the computer that tabulates the results apparently bent, causing votes in judicial retention questions not to be counted, Helander said. The error was caught after workers noticed the cumulative totals for retention did not increase in the last 108 precincts counted at the county building. Even without the votes, all six judges were retained.

"This is a big screwup on election night," said Peter Couvall, first vice chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party. "If a cable is down, how do we know it only affected the judges like she said?"

The Lake County state's attorney's office and the Management Services Department, which operates the computers that count the ballots, met with Helander and decided only judicial retention should be recounted because small differences in vote totals in other races would only cause confusion, Helander said. …