Indiana Secretary of State investigating Election Day delays, computer problems

Long voting lines at Greenwood Christian Church

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Computer problems that caused slowdowns at polling locations in seven Indiana counties are now being investigated by the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office.

Server issues at Oklahoma-based Election Systems and Software caused electronic poll books to freeze up at voting sites November 6. The most widespread problems occurred at polling locations across Johnson County, but also affected voting in Brown, Carroll, Elkhart, Hancock, Howard and Monroe counties, according to Johnson County Clerk Sue Ann Misiniec.

Misiniec has called the November general election the worst election she’s ever dealt with.

“We were ready to go,” Misiniec said. “And then, wow. I mean, we were just devastated.”

The server slowdowns resulted in voters across Johnson County waiting in line for several hours. Some voters left their polling sites, then tried to return later in the day. It’s not known how many voters decided to give up on voting because of the long delays.

The Indiana Secretary of State’s Office is now leading the investigation into what caused the problem with ES&S servers.

A statement from Secretary of State Deputy Chief of Staff, Valerie Warycha, said:

“The Secretary of State’s office is looking into issues with electronic poll books in Johnson County on Election Day. We are currently gathering information and conducting interviews with the parties involved to determine the root cause of the problem.”

“I am sure that they will come up with some answers for us, and we’ll be comfortable with that,” Misiniec said.

ES&S released a statement in response to the investigation:

“ES&S looks forward to fully cooperating with the Secretary of State’s office. We again apologize to voters and to elections officials in the counties in Indiana where a poll book issue during the first part of Election Day caused longer wait times than normal. While the issue was resolved on Election Day, we know some wait times were not acceptable and we look forward to answering any questions regarding the situation.”

Misiniec said Johnson County paid ES&S $53,709.43 for electronic poll book services for the May primary election. But a second payment of $53,709.43 for the November election is being withheld as the county and ES&S discuss a possible discount due to the service interruption.

“In a letter, they expressed their opinion that they would be willing to offset some of those costs,” Misiniec said.

“We work with our customers to ensure a fair and equitable outcome,” the ES&S statement said.

The Secretary of State’s office declined to share any more information about the ongoing investigation, but did say the Voting System Technical Oversight Program is leading the review. Any deadlines or anticipated outcomes are not clear at this time.

“The public needs to be assured that this will not happen again, and that we can move forward and get these lines moving on Election Day,” Misiniec said.

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