A strong effort to garner absentee ballots gave Glen Hockley the lead in the race for the third Common Council seat. The Board of Elections will recanvas the White Plains voting machines Tuesday at noon, and the Delgado-Hockley battle will be decided. Delays in Board of Elections reporting discovered.
WPCNR has learned a lot about how ballots are counted at the Board of Elections: slowly and by hand, by word of mouth, and with an eye for accuracy, with urgency downplayed.
WPCNR first became aware of the lag between Board of Elections official counting procedures and city hall counts Wednesday morning when advised by cable tv in White Plains that the Board of Elections website did not have results up on their website as of 9:30 PM Tuesday evening.
Board of Elections website not ready at the bell.
Officials at cable television in White Plains advised WPCNR that the cable station had been assured by the Board of Elections that the Board would have results up on their site by 9:30 so the local cable channel could post them for the television audience on the city cable channel 72. The head of White Plains Cable, Fred Strauss, said he had been assured by Board of Elections officials their site would be ready. He found that was not the case an hour before the polls closed.
Stauss told WPCNR that as of approximately 8:00 PM Tuesday, his producer, Gary Stukes reported that the Board of Elections site had no format on their screens. Strauss said that Mr. Stukes was assured results would be up as the polls closed at 9. When Stukes checked the Board of elections site at approximately 9 PM, no results were up. He scrambled to get results. He contacted the White Plains City Clerk’s office, and used their figures to post results on Cable 72.
No White Plains results until 10:30-11 PM.
Strauss said the Board of Elections began posting results on their site by 11:00 PM. That was the time when Democratic and Republican District leaders had basically completed their raw count of votes for all the districts. This is odd because voice reports are the way the Board of Elections gets their figures, too, according to a spokesperson for the Board of Election office. Strauss said Board of Elections updates on White Plains races were “infrequent, at best,” after 10:30 PM.
Phone-in results to random tallyers
WPCNR learned from the Board of Elections Friday that their official “unofficial” counts are phoned in by their own election inspectors at each polling place in White Plains at the conclusion of voting. According to the spokesperson for the Board of Election Commissioner’s office, “the sheets are bagged and delivered to us, and we count them by hand.”
The spokesperson said the counts appearing on the Board of Elections White Plains races page are based on the paper sheets pulled from the voting machines at the conclusion of voting, and phoned in to the Board of Elections.
A longtime observer of canvases on election night told WPCNR Tuesday that totals are read off the sheets across each line. He says there is wide margin for error given the fact that the results are read off quickly and often the tally takers are behind in writing down the results as they are called out.
Sometimes counts are misheard
“We take voice reports from our election inspectors, and sometimes the totals can be misunderstood,” the spokesperson (contacted at 9:30 last Wednesday morning said), by way of explanation as to why some candidates’ totals dropped Wednesday from what party district leaders reported. “We then recanvas the machine sheets by hand. How did you think it was done? We’re entering results into the terminals now (9:30 AM Thursday morning).”
No results as of 8 AM Wednesday morning
WPCNR first noted the lag in reporting, when we accessed the Board of Elections site at 8 AM Wednesday morning. We anticipated that all Election District results would be completed so we could give Board of Elections unofficial tallies on our Wednesday morning White Plains Week Election Edition show.
We were surprised. The Board of Elections site had not been updated for 6 hours and 40 minutes. The last update time on their site was listed as 1:20 AM Wednesday morning with only 39 of 46 districts reporting.
Long lagtime in reporting results
Now, had the Board of Elections and the County Executive’s office not ballyhooed the availability of these returns on the Board of Elections website prior to the election, we would not be surprised. The Board of Elections website, in fact did not update their site with results until approximately 3:00 PM Wednesday afternoon, fourteen hours after their last update in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
No one knows about 13,000 votes cast in White Plains for 18 hours after polls close.
As of Wednesday at 1 PM, Public Access television was being told by the Board of Elections that seven of the 46 Election Districts in White Plains had not reported. Asked about this, the spokesman said that not all the bags containing the machine count sheets had been delivered by Wednesday morning.
Hockley surge attributed to absentee ballots
The spokesperson at the Board of Elections, WPCNR contacted said that the surge of Glen Hockley was due to approximately 100 absentee ballots making the difference. When asked why the results favoring Hockley were not posted for 14 hours, they referred us to a person in the computer department who told us that the computer program the Board of Elections used “refreshed” every three minutes, and that the results posted depended on how fast they were inputted at the computer terminals of the Board of Elections officials taking the results over the phones.
Only 60 phones to take 2,000 District Results
The computer department spokesperson reported that the Board of Elections only had 60 telephones and operators/inputters to take election results from all the election districts in every town and city in Westchester County.
She added, when asked, that the operators taking the phone-ins of results were not covering specific locations, and therefore not keeping continuing tallies. She said they took results at random from whatever district inspecto called in whether from White Plains, Scarsdale, Yonkers or Ossining. WPCNR estimates there are approximately 2,000 election Districts in Westchester County. (There are over 100 in Yonkers, and 46 in White Plains, alone.)
Republican sources rue fact that they did not go after absentee ballots
Beginning Tuesday at twelve noon, the recanvas of the White Plains voting machines will begin. Privately Republicans were grudgingly praising the Democratic Party pursuit of absentee ballots before the election. “We messed up there,” one Republican source, “We should have done more on absentees.”
Another source, familiar with insiders in the city Democratic party said they knew the Democrats had been relentless in pursuing absentee ballots and making sure they were sent in.