Erie Co. Board of Elections looks to streamline process after small delay in reporting results

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The first election that included early voting in New York State is in the books, and the process for handling those returns and others was behind a small delay in reporting some results in Erie County.

Usually, election results come in fast and furious by the start of our 11 o’clock newscast on Election Day. This year, the results didn’t really start going up until near the end of the show.

While it was only a slight delay in the grand scheme of things, it was notable for news crews, candidates, and political analysts.

“That should not have happened last night,” said analyst Carl Calabrese. “Hopefully, it never happens again. The other counties figured it out.”

But Ralph Mohr, the republican commissioner for the Erie County Board of Elections, told News 4 he was happy with how the evening went.

While the results did start coming in later than usual, Mohr points out the final results were up before midnight, something that never happens.

“Overall we were pleased with the process,” he said.

The process was different in two major ways.

One, of course, was that the final results had to include the results of early voting, which happened for the first time in New York State this year.

Early voting ended Sunday, and the electronic chips from the early voting machines at dozens of sites around the county were processed right after the polls closed Tuesday.

“We had never done it before. We wanted to make sure it was accurate,” Mohr said. “We had read it directly from the chips that were in the voting machines, there were 74 of them. There were 839 districts that each chip had to go through, and it just took a period of time.”

All of the election day results were also taken directly from the chips from the machines, after those chips were driven to the Board of Elections Tuesday night.

That’s a change from years past when election workers were able to call into the Board of Elections with some of the numbers.

“When you have inspectors who have been working all day long since 5:30 in the morning calling in results, sometimes there’s transcriptions of numbers, sometimes it doesn’t get read properly, and we would issue results that then, later in the night, would get corrected from the machine results,” Mohr said.

This year, Mohr points out, the results were all correct the first time, even if they were available a little later than usual.

Mohr says the Board of Election had hoped to have the early voting results up by 9:20, but it was closer to 10 by the time the chips were finished being read.

There was a learning curve with the process with this being the first time for early voting in the state. “Had we been able to have this process previously, we may have changed the procedure to have partial results, however, to ensure the accuracy of it, we set it up on a technical basis to report once and final results of early voting,” Mohr said.

Mohr says the Board of Elections will evaluate its procedures and will work to streamline the process for future elections.

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