Cuyahoga County finishes tabulating votes

CLEVELAND - The state's largest county finished tabulating votes from Tuesday's primary on Sunday night, completing unofficial results five days after its first election converting from punch cards to electronic voting, the Cuyahoga County elections director said.

Workers finished hand counting about 15,000 paper absentee ballots that could not be read by new optical scan machines on Friday, said Michael Vu, director of the elections board in the county that includes Cleveland.

Workers spent the weekend compiling the numbers into one spreadsheet, which was completed around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, he said.

"It's been one of the manual counts where you never want to go through it again," Vu said. But he added he expects the votes will have to be hand counted again for the official results.

Officials from the secretary of state's office said last week that they will investigate the glitches that delayed ballot counting, and Vu said the elections board plans to look into the problems as well.

The main form of voting was on Diebold Election Systems touch-screen voting machines. Those votes are stored in several ways, including on memory cards, and some poll workers placed the cards in the wrong storage bags. Vu said most misplaced cards were eventually located and the totals from those that weren't found were recovered from a backup memory on the machines.

The touch-screen totals -- 200,062 or 20 percent of registered voters in the county -- were not completed until late Thursday night.

The Diebold optical scanners for paper ballots also proved to be problematic. A Diebold spokesman said the ballots may not have been printed correctly by a third party, resulting in the scanners failing to read the ballots properly. But Cuyahoga County said it placed its order for paper ballots based on Diebold specifications.

On election day, some polling places failed to open on time or were late setting up electronic voting machines.

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