Tally card error delays results in Rutherford County - WKRN News 2

Tally card error delays results in Rutherford County

Posted: Updated: Nov 7, 2012 05:01 PM
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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -

There were a lot of yawns and tired eyes around the Rutherford County Election Commission Wednesday morning after a long night of counting votes the old fashioned way.

As a result, returns for the populous county of Rutherford including the city of Murfreesboro and other suburbs southwest of Nashville were much later than expected.

They even held up acceptance and concession speeches in the bitter 4th District Congressional race.

"I think it was about 2 a.m. when most of got out of here and the votes were counted," Rutherford County Administrator of Elections Nicole Lester told Nashville's News 2 Wednesday morning.

"This is the culprit," she said holding up what's called a tally card.

The card, which looks and acts much like a credit card, records tallies in voting machines.

"For some reason, we could not read about five to six [tally] cards each in about eight precincts," Lester explained.  "Fortunately, there's a backup, but one that takes a lot longer that the nearly instant results provided by the tally card."

Each voting machine also has what's called a tally tape, which is actually a piece of paper.

It provides a paper trail for each vote, but they must be manually entered into other vote totals.

Several people then have to verify the vote by reading it off the tape.

Earlier in evening, there were issues with counting a heavy number of absentee ballots and by law, other vote totals could not be released until the absentee votes were counted first.

That, combined with the tally card error, held up totals in the congressional race between incumbent Republican Scott DesJarlais and Democratic challenger Eric Stewart.

While commanding totals from other counties came in showing a nearly 60-40 percent lead, no numbers were coming in from the all-important biggest county in the district.

DesJarlais even declined to make an acceptance speech Tuesday night because the Rutherford totals were not coming in a timely way.

Election Administrator Lester said the vendors they contract with for the voting machines were on site throughout the evening and into the wee hours, but have not yet pinpointed the problem.

She stressed "no votes were lost, just slow in getting counted."

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