Lauderdale County election officials explain delay in results

Published: Aug. 7, 2019 at 9:34 PM CDT
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It wasn't until 12:45 a.m. that all 100 percent of the votes had been counted for Lauderdale County.

The complete count came hours after surrounding counties had reported theirs. Officials say the problem was not actually a problem, but just a process that took way longer than it should have.

“It takes a while. It’s a big long ballot,” Lauderdale County Election Commission Chairperson Awana Simmons says.

When it came to voting in all 40 precincts, there were no real problems reported other than a couple of paper jams that were quickly resolved. It was after the polls closed and the ballot boxes had already been returned to the courthouse that the issues began.

“They have their computer experts that are constantly tweaking how we run the programs and the different pages of reports. We are working with them all the time,” Simmons says.

The Lauderdale County Election Commission says the slow process of tabulating the results came down to downloading the votes from each precinct.

This process is done using encrypted USB thumb drives. Similar situations happened in Wichita, Kansas on two occasions. One being exactly one year ago.

The USB thumb drives should only take a matter of seconds to process. Officials say in the case of Tuesday’s election each one took a substantially longer amount of time to download and with a total of 40 thumb drives from the 40 precincts that time added up.

“We did everything according to plan as fast as we could. We had Democrat and Republican, so it’s just a lot to bring in,” Simmons says.

This is the second time the new machines have been used in a Lauderdale County election. Newton County just recently adopted the paper ballot process using the same machines. Tuesday was the first time they were used and the county didn’t have the same delays that were found in Lauderdale County.

“We want it short too, believe me! We do the best we can and we are honest and we have honest and fair elections,” Simmons says.

In response to the late return of election results Board of Supervisors President Jonathan Wells released the following statement:

"We do plan on asking the folks who work over at the election office what happened. I’m sure they did their best. Those are highly dedicated people. No one was more upset than them. We will follow up to make sure everything is done to make November go after.”