Countinghouse Blues

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Sarpy County election officials are trying to figure out how they ended up with more votes than voters in the general election. As many as 10,000 extra votes have been tallied and candidates are still waiting for corrected totals.

Johnny Boykin lost his bid to be on the Papillion City Council. The difference between victory and defeat in the race was 127 votes.

Boykin says, "When I went in to work the next day and saw that 3,342 people had shown up to vote in our war, I thought something's not right."

He's right. There are not even 3,000 people registered to vote in his ward.

For some reason, some votes were counted twice.

Deputy Sarpy County Election Commissioner Ed Gilbert says, "It affected 32 of the 80 precincts. And I suppose as many as 10,000 votes."

Sarpy County borrowed the election equipment from Omaha-based Election Systems & Software. Its employees operated the machines that are now double-checking the ballots.

No one is sure exactly what went wrong.

Gilbert says, "The only thing we know is that if you load the disc out there, it reads fine. They didn't read fine on this computer."

Election officials say they don't believe the glitch will impact who won and who lost any of the races. They figure that when votes were doubled in a particular race, the totals were doubled for both candidates. Vote totals would be skewed but percentages would not change.

In spite of that, the candidates want to know the real numbers.

Boykin says, "I think we owe it to those folks to make sure all the votes got counted, correctly."

As of Thursday night, the problem still had not been pinpointed. The Sarpy County Election office had hoped to post the updated results on its Web site but, at last check, we got the following message: "Updated unofficial results for the 2004 General Election are pending. Please check back later."


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