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 • 11.04.2004
Computer loses more than 4,000 early votes in Carteret
Associated Press
(Original)

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. - More than 4,500 Carteret County votes have been lost because officials believed a computer that stored ballots electronically could hold more data than it did. Scattered other problems may change results in local races around the state.

Carteret officials said UniLect Corp., the maker of the county's electronic voting system, said each storage unit could handle 10,500 votes, but the limit was actually 3,005 votes.

When they tried to store more than 7,500 early votes in the unit, some 4,530 were lost.

Jack Gerbel, president and owner of Dublin-Calif.-based UniLect, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the county's elections board was given incorrect information. There is no way to retrieve the missing data, he said.

"That is the situation and it's definitely terrible," he said.

In a letter to county officials, he blamed the mistake on confusion over which model of the voting machines were in use in Carteret County. But he also noted that the machines flash a warning message when there is no more room for storing ballots.

"Evidently, this message was either ignored or overlooked," he wrote.

County election officials were meeting with State Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett and other state elections officials on Thursday and did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

Expecting the greater capacity, the county only used one unit during the early voting period. "If we had known, we would have had the units to handle the votes," said Sue Verdon, secretary of the county election board.


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