Issue with software obfuscates completion of election results on county clerk’s website

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — An issue with the software that displays election results on the Essex County Clerk’s Office website is incorrectly showing viewers how many districts have completely reported in their votes.

According to the website on Nov. 9, 548 districts out of 550 in Essex County are reported in; the two missing districts are in Newark. However, while the website says that 100 percent of West Orange districts have reported in, that is not strictly true. Out of 37 districts, only 35 have completely reported in — two machines still need to be checked for votes, one in Ward 4 District 6 and the other in Ward 4 District 7.

According to County Clerk Chris Durkin in a Nov. 9 phone conversation, the issue comes from the website’s software that shows the results — a software relatively new to the county — which will record a district as being totally reported in even if just one machine from that district has its votes recorded. However, if a district has more than one machine and one machine breaks down and isn’t read, the website will still say that district has fully reported in. Durkin said he will have to contact the software company to look into this.

While the website is not displaying properly how many districts have fully reported in, Durkin knows which machines’ votes have yet to be counted. According to Durkin, approximately 25 machines in Essex County still need to have their votes recorded. He explained that not all these machines will likely actually have votes on them, as often a polling place will have more than one machine, with one being a backup machine; even if that machine is not used, it still needs to be checked for votes.

As per state law, after election night, Durkin had to apply for court orders to inspect the machines whose votes were not recorded. He and his staff will be inspecting these machines sometime next week to record any votes on them.

Durkin also said that his office is still counting mail-in ballots and still has to count provisional ballots. Once all votes have been counted, the Durkin will certify the results, which until then remain unofficial.

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