Despite high-tech system, old methods slow election reporting

By Janel Davis The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Georgia has invested hundreds of thousands of…

Georgia (Aug 20, 2012) — By Janel Davis


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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on 21st century technology for its election night reporting system, but when those results get posted still depends partially on the evening traffic.

The reporting system, called the ENR system, is designed to allow all of Georgia's 159 counties to post their election results to a central location and let residents view the results and customize their own election reports. But the $230,000 system, which was rolled out for last month's primary, is for reporting, not tabulating.

That function belongs to the counties. And at a time when a teenager can download his favorite band's new album in a matter of seconds, a county poll worker must hit the road on election night to deliver final ballot totals to the main elections office. There, a secure computer is employed to report to the ENR system.

The ENR system is the latest update to the uniform reporting system launched by the Secretary of State's Office in 2002 and included outfitting all Georgia's counties with the same voting equipment.

Georgia follows other states in the region in using the election night reporting system, such as Alabama, where 85 percent of the counties use it. In Alabama, election totals are also delivered by motor vehicle, but it's a county deputy doing the driving.

Uploading county results to the ENR system should only take a few additional minutes, and there were no problems with the system on election night, said Jared Thomas, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office.

But even though polls close at 7 p.m., there can be many reasons why the results are posted much later, said Merle King, executive director of the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, which was established in 2002 to provide support to the state and counties and runs the ENR system. The office's $704,000 budget and eight employees are funded through the Secretary of State's Office. 


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