Home>Campaigns>Scattered reports of technology, poll worker issues hamper N.J. poll openings

Scattered reports of technology, poll worker issues hamper N.J. poll openings

By David Wildstein, November 02 2021 9:41 am

There are reports of network and connectivity issues at polling locations in at least eight counties that led to late openings of polling locations and some provisional ballots being cast and others who either waited or agreed to return later.

But many of the issues are related to human error relating to a high tech election with a workforce dominated by older Election Day poll workers.

There are also issues related to a Netgear Nighthawk router that was recommended to county election officials to provide added security to election data that is connected to the statewide system.  In some cases, troubleshooting found that the poll workers didn’t turn the router on.

The New Jersey Globe has learned of technology problems in at least Atlantic, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Passaic and Somerset counties early Tuesday morning.

In some cases, polling locations did not open for at least two hours.

There are additional reports that electronic poll books were operating slowly.

In some places, the decision was made to disconnect poll books from the wi-fi system – something that shouldn’t hamper today’s elections since voting district data was already loaded into the system.  That might get fixed as voting machine technicians make their way across the state.

Electronic poll books are supposed to be connected to the state’s Emergency Network System, a highly-secured cellular communications system.  The Nighthawk router was to provide extra security and speed at polling locations.

In South Plainfield, 13 of 15 polling locations did not open on time.  They are slowly getting up online.

These issues appear to be affecting both political parties.

“This morning, the Division of Elections was made aware of issues related to the operation of electronic pollbook at a small number of polling locations throughout New Jersey. Most of the state’s approximately 3400 polling locations have been operating since 6 am without reported incident,” said Alicia D’Alessandro,  a spokesperson for the Secretary of State.  “The affected sites have been or are being addressed. If any voters were unable to vote due to these issues, we encourage them to return to their polling location and cast a ballot.”

This story was updated at 12:07 PM with comment from the Secretary of State’s office. 

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