N.C. voting problems: 2004 editionThe News and Observer November 22, 2004
Statewide races for agriculture commissioner and superintendent of public instruction are still unresolved, in part because of 4,400 lost ballots in Carteret County. Republican Steve Troxler leads incumbent Democrat Britt Cobb by fewer than 2,300 votes. Both have filed election protests based on the foul-up. Bill Fletcher, the Republican candidate for superintendent of public instruction, wants the state courts to throw out votes -- known as provisional ballots -- in state and local races cast by about 10,000 voters who went to the wrong precincts.
Carteret County lost 4,438 votes during the early-voting period leading up to Election Day because a computer didn't record them. Three candidates for state offices have filed protests that cite the lost votes.
Cleveland County lost 120 ballots on the night of Election Day when workers retrieved a provisional ballot that had been fed by error into an optical scan machine. The ballots did not make it back to election headquarters. Local elections officials say they were left behind at the polling station and thrown away the next day.
State elections officials will begin an investigation today of complaints in Gaston County involving a computer-company technician working on the elections without adequate supervision, a mismatch between ballots cast and the number of voters in some precincts, and the late reporting of early-voting ballots. About 12,000 early votes from Gaston were not reported for a week after the election.
In Mecklenburg County, votes from some one-stop sites were counted twice, while others weren't counted at all.
Early ballot results were downloaded to laptops, and there were mix-ups in retrieving the data.
Officials found the problem the day after the election, said Elections Director Michael Dickerson. The new results affected the outcome of races for county commissioner.
In Yadkin County, about 1,000 votes were counted twice during a manual tally of write-in votes on optical scan ballots. The local elections director said officials needed an updated manual to figure out the proper counting method. The revised count changed the results of a county commissioner's race.
In Craven County, votes in some precincts were counted twice. The corrected numbers changed the results of a county commissioner's race.
Overtaxed computer software in Guilford County threw away thousands of early voting and absentee ballots as the county reported them to the state. The system could report only about 32,600 early and absentee results, said local elections director George Gilbert, but the county had more than twice that. The county had backup information and was able to retrieve the ballots.