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The Los Alamos County Clerk’s office unveiled a new system for reporting election results in Tuesday’s primary elections.
Instead of candidates and the press jockeying to read a grocery tape printout, numbers were displayed on two screens in the Los Alamos County chambers and on the county clerk’s website.
As results came in from the county’s three Vote Centers, they were automatically added to earlier results. In the past, totals from each successive tape would have to be added manually.
Despite a few glitches, those following election results in council chambers were pleased with what they saw.
“There was a big crowd tonight, and we went around and asked folks what they thought, and a lot of them commented they thought it was a good process,” county clerk Sharon Stover said.
Inspired by a system developed by Doña Ana County, the county opted to build its own reporting system rather than purchase expensive election software. Communications Specialist II Leslie Buckland, Senior Deputy Clerk Adrianna Ortiz and IM Service Desk Supervisor Leah Frazier developed the mechanics for the program.
The display went into operation shortly after the polls closed, showing results from absentee ballots and early voting. New totals were displayed as each Vote Center reported in.
The trial run had a few glitches.
The system was initially set to display each race for three seconds, with six seconds for Democratic Los Alamos County Council candidates. The speed of the rotation made it impossible to record results.
County staff was available to address issues in real time. They changed the settings, doubling the display time. Although that was a considerable improvement, it still took several rotations of the roster to accurately record results for all the competitive races, especially the Democratic governor’s race.
Candidates checking the results against the grocery tapes, which were still posted, discovered another glitch in the system. The results for Republican candidates for county council were scrambled. Councilor Rick Reiss, who was adding the results from each grocery tape, realized the numbers displayed on the screen did not match.
According to Buckland, the error was due to a glitch in the Excel spreadsheet. Buckland was contacted by phone, and talked Deputy County Administrator Steven Lynne through the fix.
Some of those present on Tuesday suggested eliminating a bar used to display vote counts, but others were in favor of it.
One resident watching results on the county website called to say the display was fuzzy. Stover believes that may due to the earth tone colors of the display, chosen as a neutral color not associated with the two major parties. The display colors may be changed for greater visual clarity.
“I actually heard that instead of having to scurry to that one tape, people are happy with this. Someone said it was ‘fantastic,’” Stover said. “So we’re going to continue with this.”