By Kim West & Lora Scripps
A mishap involving a computer memory drive at one location caused the unofficial election results from Tuesday’s primary races to be updated but did not change race outcomes, Limestone County Probate Judge Charles Woodroof said Thursday morning.
“We were made aware late (Wednesday) afternoon that inadvertently one of the memory sticks at a voting location with two machines had a machine with results that did not get read correctly,” he said. “There were 204 ballots not in the unofficial results distributed Tuesday. It made no difference in any race ... All it did was amend the unofficial results with everybody having a few more votes.”
Woodroof said there were eight out of 24 voting centers in the county with two machines. He explained that any location with more than 2,400 registered voters has to have more than one voting machine. The technical misreading occurred at the Round Island Baptist Church location.
“There were 47 Democratic ballots and 157 Republican ballots,” he said.
Prior to the election, Limestone County used M100 voting machines that included a data pack that was delivered to the location where votes were canvassed. The data packs were hooked up to a laptop computer that calculated the total.
For this election, the county used DS200 voting machines. The current machine uses a thumb or memory drive instead of a data pack. After being signed and sealed, a Sheriff’s Office deputy or a voting inspector delivers the thumb drives from the voting location to the canvassing location, according to Woodroof. The memory sticks are then logged in and inserted into the laptop to be read and checked off.
“On Tuesday, they were coming in much quicker than they have ever come in because the DS200 are quicker,” Woodroof said. “That is why we have new machines (that are) better, faster.”
He explained that in the envelope from Round Island, there were two memory sticks.
“Inadvertently, only one stick was loaded into the laptop and read,” Woodroof said. “So when unofficial election results were distributed on Tuesday night, out of 2,880 registered voters at Round Island Baptist Church, 334 ballots were cast. That was the results on one of the two memory sticks.”
There were 17 races on the ballot at Round Island, Woodroof said.
Election officials’ response
Woodroof said election officials became aware of the issue because the voter tally tapes, which are required by law to be posted on the door of each voting center, were reading differently.
“We became aware (Wednesday) afternoon that all the votes at Round Island may not have been counted,” he said. “As is often the case, candidates have people outside each voting location calling in totals so they can add them up,” he said. “That way they know the results before the results get to the canvassing location.”
Woodroof said they were made aware that a candidate’s totals did not match the unofficial total given out on Tuesday night.
“Rather than a total of 334 ballots cast at Round Island Baptist Church, there were 538 ballots cast,” he said.
Out of 13 of 17 races, the remaining ballots counted changed the results by less than 0.10 percent. The four races that were affected by a 0.10 percent or more increase were the Republican primary races for chairman of the Limestone County Commission, Limestone County Commission District 3, State Republican Executive Committee Place I and the Democratic primary race for governor.
After discovering that one memory stick was inadvertently left unread, Woodroof contacted Ronnie Coffman, chairman of the Limestone County Republican Party, and Ron Gatlin, chairman of the Democratic Party, as well as members of the local media.
“My main focus as chief election officer of Limestone County once the situation was brought to our attention was to correct it and make necessary contact with the parties it affected,” he said.
Woodroof said he takes full responsibility. He said to prevent it from happening again they will make a checklist and be sure to check each barcode on the memory sticks.
Woodroof released the updated, unofficial results Thursday at the Clinton Street courthouse annex.
Limestone County’s voter turnout countywide was at 22.67 percent Tuesday night. The turnout is now 23.09 percent, the probate judge said.
The primary race results will be certified starting at noon Tuesday, June 10, after 63 provisional ballots are added to the unofficial tally.
Updated unofficial totals from 2014 primary election
State races are not included.
Limestone County sheriff
Brad Pullum — 3,292, 37.1 percent
Eric Redd — 803, 9.1 percent
Eric Smith — 4,778, 53.9 percent
Limestone County sheriff
Mike Blakely (incumbent) — unopposed
Limestone County Commission chairman
Stanley Menefee (R, incumbent) — 4,530, 47.2 percent
Mark Yarbrough, (R) — 5,061, 52.8 percent
Limestone County Commission, District 1
Tom Combs, (R) — 150, 5.5 percent
Stanley Hill, (R) — 764, 27.8
Seth Parker, (R) — 384, 13.96
Daryl Sammet, (R) — 624, 22.7
James Shannon, (R) — 828, 30.1
Limestone County Commission, District 3 (R)
Jason Black — 1,048, 50.2 percent
Hollis Hogan — 298, 14.3
Adam Hutchins — 741, 35.5
Limestone County Commission, District 3 (D)
James “Curtis” Turner — unopposed
Limestone County Board of Education, District 5
Larry Faulk, (R) — 423, 38.6 percent
Bradley Young, (R) — 672, 61.4
Limestone County Board of Education, District 4
Ed Winter (R) — unopposed
Limestone County Coroner
Mike West (D, incumbent) — unopposed
Limestone County State Republican Executive Committee Place 1
Corey Elrod — 2,073, 26.6 percent
Ben Harrison — 4,001, 51.4
Glenda Neill — 1,713, 22.0
Limestone County State Republican Executive Committee Place 2
Jim Burden — 1,635, 21.7 percent
Wayne Reynolds — 3,108, 41.3
Caren Sample — 1,233, 16.4
John Wahl — 1,557, 20.7
Limestone County State Republican Executive Committee Place 3
Ronnie G. Coffman — 5,184, 62.3 percent
Randall Peek — 3,144, 37.8