Report: Traffic Jams a Factor When Tallying Votes

An upgrade to Georgia's election night reporting system still requires a driver to hand-deliver results.

by / August 23, 2012

An interesting story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about elections technology highlights the complexity and technical hurdles of vote tabulation.

In Georgia, centralized reporting of voting results requires poll workers to drive to a main office to upload the data to a secure computer. Georgia invested in a new computer for election night, but a roadway traffic jam could delay results from being posted. The $230,000 Election Night Reporting (ENR) system allows all 159 of Georgia's counties to post election results to a central location where residents can view the results, reported. But the system was designed for reporting only, not tabulation, so a courier must physically drive the results to the main election office where a secure computer finishes the process.

"Underneath [the new ENR system] there are 159 individual elections going on with hundreds of thousands of moving parts, and all that has to be orchestrated into a very narrow period of time to collect that data and push it out," said Merle King, executive director of the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University. "So these things are not trivial to put together."

In neighboring Alabama, 85 percent of counties use a similar system and a county deputy drives the results to the main election office. Georgia first began updating its ENR system in 2002.

While Georgia's situation is not unique, the concept that road traffic can impact when voting results are announced is a factor that's rarely discussed.

Read the Atlanta Journal Constitution's story to learn more.

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