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Wayne County Board of Canvassers will dig into election night website issues

Detroit brought in new voting equipment for 2017 elections after rampant problems with 2016 vote.
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers wants to know what went wrong with the county’s election website during last week’s primary.

The board is expected to meet Monday with the CEO of ElectionSource, the Grand Rapids-based company that runs the county’s election results reporting website, to try and get answers.

As returns started coming in Tuesday night, it was clear the website washaving problems. Some initial results were reported incorrectly, causing inexplicable fluctuations and leading many to doubt whether the numbers could be trusted at all. And the website shut down altogether for several hours during the night, before coming back online Wednesday morning.

County elections officials insist the vote count was always accurate. ElectionSource blamed the problems on software glitches that resulted from too-large data files, and too much web traffic overwhelming data uploads.

Wayne County Board of Canvassers chair Jonathan Kinloch says he wants a full explanation of what went wrong, and public reassurance that the problems were “isolated to glitches with reporting the numbers, not with counting votes.”

Kinloch says he has no reason to doubt the final vote tallies are accurate, but it’s important to get the full story out there so the public can have faith in election outcomes. The board of canvassers has yet to certify Wayne County’s election results; it has two weeks after last Tuesday’s primary to do so.

Other public officials are less certain about the integrity of the voting process in Wayne County.

State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit, called on the board and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to “immediately begin audits of the city of Detroit’s election results to ensure that voting efficacy and confidence is preserved.”

Gay-Dagnogo said she heard “countless stories” of Detroit voters experiencing last-minute polling place changes, and others turned away by poll workers who provided inaccurate information.

“It is our responsibility as state officials to ensure that poll workers are properly trained, that data is properly transferred and posted, and that communication to residents is proactive, timely and accurate,” Gay-Dagnogo said. “While these essential processes did not happen Tuesday, we must ensure that they happen in November.”

Wayne County Commissioner Jewel Ware has also called for an investigation into the website issues, saying the reporting problems undermine faith in the elections system and discourage voting.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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