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Data backlog delays Maryland's elections results

Posted at 4:26 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 17:13:44-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Election results are delayed in Maryland's most-populated areas. While 19 counties posted their full election counts overnight, five jurisdictions in the state were still behind.

On Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning, election officials said a technical issue was to blame. As a result there was a delay voting results in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Montgomery County and Prince George's County. Baltimore County did not report any Election Day results until Wednesday morning, they added.

According to Nikki Charlson, Deputy Administrator for the State Board of Elections, the problem stemmed from thumb drives inside ballot scanners at voting centers.

You may not see the thumb drives but they're present during the voting process.

After you fill out your ballot, you scan it. The scanner stores that data on thumb drives.

Because there are multiple voting centers with multiple scanners, a jurisdiction could be responsible for hundreds of thumb drives.

Of the five jurisdictions mentioned, there was a total of 1,110 thumb drives used. By 1 a.m. Wednesday only 76 thumb drives had been fully transferred.

Why so low a number? Officials said transfer times per thumb drive was close to 10 minutes.

"Processing results includes transferring data from the thumb drives from the scanners to the central voting system database," said Charlson. "This process requires the user to manually confirm any precinct that does not have results before moving to the next precinct. When the results are processed, the user must manually confirm that there are no ballots from precinct 1-1 from this vote center. The data transfer and confirmation process is taking about 8-10 minutes for each thumb drive. This impacts those jurisdictions with the most thumb drives. The State Board is working on a solution with the voting system vendor and the affected local boards of elections."

Maryland's Board of Elections said it will continuously update voting results over the next few days until they are complete. It is also working with the state's election system vendors to accelerate the reporting process.