During the most recent cycle, election results from the Monroe County Board of Elections were delayed by several hours.
While the ballots last November were collected, tabulated and recorded without any issues, the board was unable to share updates through its website within one hour of polls closing at 9 p.m., which is the typical expected timeline.
At the time, the board blamed poor connectivity for the delay. A new report supports that conclusion.
“The accuracy and security of the 2022 General Election results were never in question. It was the transmission to the website, which was the issue. Unfortunately, what traditionally took minutes turned into several hours of troubleshooting and finally, successfully publishing all results,” states the report signed by commissioners Lisa Policy Nicolay, a Republican, and Jackie Ortiz, a Democrat.
The investigation was launched in an effort to review and diagnose the reporting problems. Vendor Dominion Voting Systems Corp. and network administrators at Monroe County Information Services worked with the board to attempt to reproduce the errors in a series of tests.
On Dec. 20, the group re-ran the full election night reporting procedure, repeating the processes used in November, and successfully shared the results without any undue delay. Board staff conducted the tests under the supervision of the vendor who verified all software settings were in compliance and temporarily files were expunged. MCIS monitored network traffic during the testing.
Further tests showed that data files related to early and absentee voting ballots accounted for 90 percent of the total processing time, which was between 18 and 20 minutes. While the law permits canvassing absentee ballots on a rolling basis and early voting ballots as early as 8 p.m. on election night, the board cannot report them until after the polls close.
When an additional test was conducted without those files,the entire process ran without error in under one minute.
An additional round of testing was conducted on Jan. 10, and returned substantially the same results.
Based on those tests, the board concluded that the vendor software was in proper working order and staff was operating properly. There was some delay attributable to the characteristics of certain files, but it could not account for the entirety of the result reporting slowdown.
With these findings, the board reiterated that transient network issues no longer present during testing were the cause of the Election Day 2022 delay.
The tests highlighted areas for further improvements which will not impair functions, the board says.
First, the board plans to relocate its election night canvass and reporting from offices in downtown Rochester to the Brighton Training and Service Center, which was used in November 2022 to share the results after issues persisted that night. The Brighton auxiliary site already maintains a server isolated from other county infrastructure, which is used for the secure maintenance of the voting machines and poll pad systems themselves.
Second, it will preload early and absentee voting results on Monday before Election Day to not interfere with reporting votes cast at poll sites.
“We are confident that the remedies now in place for the 2023 primary and general elections will result in election night reporting that is not only accurate but timely, as well,” the report concludes.
This year, the primary election is June 27 and the general election, Nov. 7.
Jacob Schermerhorn is a Rochester Beacon contributing writer.The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].
It took 5 times before my ballot was accepted by the machine on last election night. Then when I get home, I find out the whole system was shut down for a long period. I don’t trust the voting system anymore. In November & December 2020 all the battle ground states had state legislative hearings with hundreds of witnesses and affidavits testifying to voter fraud and irregularities. I watched some of these hearings on Cspan. There was voluminous other evidence that surfaced after that which literally was ignored by the media. According to New York Citizens Audit there was substantial voter fraud and irregularities in NYS in 2020 which affected many state positions. I haven’t see any real media coverage on this issue. The election commissioners naturally want to sweep this under the rug because it reflects on their competence. They and the readers of the Rochester Beacon should go to auditny.com for earthshaking statistics about many irregularities in NYS.
It never seizes to amaze me how, back in the 60’s when it was paper, there appeared to be no concern nor can I remember any issues. Then the computer hits the market and connectivity which should be instantaneous, becomes the problem or the excuse. It reminds me of an issue in a Buffalo Hospital where I had the position of medical imagine director. Transportation was a problem throughout the building. Some departments had one transporter, some a .5 and some more. We had 12 and transported without interruption. I volunteered to take over the transportation of all departments guaranteeing flawless on time internal transportation. One of the VP’s said that if you were to do that you would need a new software program. The price $23,000.00. For some reason when it came to IT there was always money available. I suggested a budget of $500. 00 for the year. It consisted of paper and pencil and a central board. The VP objected but the President overruled him. It still functions on paper the last time I heard. The computer turn out to be froth with excuses and the cost, outrageous. From power surges, to connectivity, to human error. There is such a thing as over engineering. I believe that dependency on the computer is a real problem. Apply the KISS theory. I know, that makes me old. LOL.