Errors blamed for city tally delay

September 13, 1990|By Alisa Samuelsand Robert Hilson Jr. | Alisa Samuelsand Robert Hilson Jr.,Evening Sun Staff

City election officials said both computer and human error caused the problems that have delayed the unofficial results of Tuesday's primary election, but said the election returns should be available sometime today.

By the close of business yesterday, the results still weren't available because new computers that were to provide up-to-date, accurate and fast results had broken down, Baltimore's Elections Board administrator said.

Barbara E. Jackson, the election administrator, said a breakdown in the computer system and the inexperience of several of the more than 2,300 election judges had caused the delay.

Results have not been tallied in the city courthouse races or in the legislative races in districts 43, 44, 45,46, or 47.

Jackson also said that her staff was unprepared for the onslaught of candidates, campaign workers and the media who crowded into the lobby at the election board after the election. At 2 a.m. Wednesday, as many candidates and supporters continued to wait for results from the polls that had closed six hours earlier, the election office quietly closed.

"It's better for us to close down when it got late and we only had partial figures than for us to give out incorrect figures," Jackson said yesterday. "I felt it was better for us to do it this way than to just do it off the wall and give out something wrong."

Jackson, who has worked at the election board for 24 years, said problems with the return sheets from many precincts led to incomplete figures being returned to the election office.

Some election figures in many races were released, she said. However, they were partial and unofficial.

Jackson said the return sheets, which indicate the number of votes each candidate received, were returned only partially completed for three reasons:

*Lack of knowledge of procedures by many of the election judges.

*Problems with the print packs containing the results.

*A combination of the first two.

"The print packs read from right to left and many of the judges didn't understand that," Jackson said. "Some judges were not as knowledgeable as others."

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