Software Leads to Issues with Election Results in Idaho

A 2-year-old, $4 million Idaho Secretary of State’s Office contract with an election software company caused headaches during Tuesday’s presidential primary, with botched reporting for the second election in a row.

by Joel Mills, Lewiston Tribune / March 11, 2020
(Shutterstock)

(TNS) — A 2-year-old, $4 million Idaho Secretary of State’s Office contract with a Florida election software company continued to cause headaches during Tuesday’s presidential primary, with botched reporting of results for the second election in a row.

Nez Perce County Auditor/Recorder Patty O. Weeks said that while local results were counted accurately by her office, the information was garbled when election workers tried to upload it to the state-run voter information interface designed by Tenex Software Solutions of Tampa, Fla.

Weeks said the county had to hide an erroneous initial voter turnout figure that showed 933 percent participation, as well as precinct-by-precinct results that have been available in past elections. Similar problems cropped up during the 2019 municipal elections last November, when incorrect early results had to be removed, leaving the public guessing late into election night.

Last November, Weeks had to report those final election results to the Lewiston Tribune by texting a photo of a printed page to a reporter.

“I’ve been trying to work with the Secretary of State’s office to get things working correctly,” Weeks said. “But it’s frustrating.”

Weeks said she heard reports of similar problems from other counties, including Bannock and Power. A report last month by KPVI television in Boise quoted Bannock County Elections Administrator Julie Hancock saying the new system “lacks functionality.”

Subsequent conversations with local elections officials alleviated some of the concerns, according to the report, but the problems weren’t apparently fixed by election night. Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said his office was correcting errors as counties reported them, including the 933 percent turnout number.

He blamed the errors on the multiple formats in which Idaho’s 44 counties report their information to the state. And while that reporting hasn’t been standardized, Houck said earlier tests of the system worked correctly.

He declined to answer questions about how the discrepancies might impact voter confidence in an era of deep concern about election accuracy and security, and hung up on a Lewiston Tribune reporter when pressed on the matter.

The Tenex-designed software only handles voter registration and the reporting of results, and has nothing to do with local vote counting and recording. Secretary of State Lawerence Denney awarded the contract in 2018.

©2020 the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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