A possible malfunction of the vote tabulation system in Monmouth County led to the double counting of votes in six voting districts in four municipalities and appears to change the outcome of a school board race in Ocean Township.
Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Monmouth County’s voting machine vendor, has acknowledged an error in their vote tabulation system that caused irregularities that were not discovered until an unrelated issue caused the Board of Elections to launch an internal investigation, according to an election official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The company called the issue an “isolated incident occurred due to a human procedural error. An audit of the system yielded this information.”
In the six voting districts, fail-safes in the tabulation software failed and some results were counted twice, possibly a result of work by the vendor that was completed incorrectly.
“In July of 2022, upon request, ES&S technicians were sent to Monmouth County to investigate reports of slow performance on the county’s internal network. During troubleshooting, technicians uninstalled and reinstalled the county’s election management software,” said Katina Granger, a spokesman for the voting machine company. “A human procedural error during reinstallation excluded a step, which optimizes the system database and ensures USB flash media cannot be read twice during the results loading process. Because the database was not optimized, the user was not notified when the USB flash media were loaded twice into the results reporting module.”
Granger said the problem occured when a USB flash media was “loaded twice into the results reporting module.”
“There are reports in the system which document these types of actions, and duplication of results can be detected during reporting and canvas procedures. The USB Status Load Report identifies any USB flash media that have been loaded more than once.,” Granger said. “Additionally, pollbook data cross-referenced with the ballots cast also shows issues with the number of ballots cast.
The attorney general’ office has advised the Board of Elections to recanvass and recertify the results of the November 8 general election, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.
Steve Clayton defeated Jeffrey Weinstein by 20 votes, 3,523 to 3,503 and took office this month. A new tally conducted today shows Weinstein ahead by one vote.
Both candidates were advised of the issue today. The final results are unlikely to change in the other three municipalities — Belmar, Fair Haven and Tinton Falls — where elections were not close, but the final numbers could be changed.
“I will let the process play itself out,” Clayton said. “I’m laser-focused on what the voters sent me to do.”
ES&S sold the Monmouth County Board of Elections a software program manufactured by Electionware that scans and tabulates the machines.
Granger said that ES&S “will reinstall the election management system which will ensure the system is optimized to detect and block duplication of USB flash media results.
“ES&S pledges to work with Monmouth County to ensure all necessary steps are taken to ensure election accuracy,” she said.
“There are reports in the system which document these types of actions, and duplication of results can be detected during reporting and canvas procedures. The USB Status Load Report identifies any USB flash media that have been loaded more than once. Additionally, pollbook data cross-referenced with the ballots cast also shows issues with the number of ballots cast.
The problem in Monmouth County was not detected by a post-election audit.
Voting machines from ES&S are used in about one-third of the counties in New Jersey.
The attorney general’s office, which represents all 21 county election boards, does not appear to have contacted other counties to advise them that the vote tabulation system in another county was flawed.
“Nobody has brought it to my attention. I’m disappointed and dismayed,” said Sussex County Clerk Jeff Parrott. “It’s unacceptable to me.”
This story was updated with comment from ES&S at 4:40 PM.