Tuesday was Butler County’s dress rehearsal for the 2020 presidential primary and election, and there were no issues until the evening when officials first tried to post results online, officials said.
The issue wasn’t connected to the new $7.5 million voting machine system Butler County purchased this year, election officials said, but instead with the reporting software by Tenex, the same provider of the county’s e-pollbooks.
“We don’t know exactly what happened,” said Butler County Board of Elections Deputy Director Eric Corbin. “I do not know what happened at Tenex.”
Corbin said the elections IT staff is talking with the Florida-based company to figure out what happened.
ELECTION RESULTS 2019: Check out Butler County vote totals from Election Day
Tenex officials said there was not any unexpected outage, but they did increase the size of its server load once polls closed to handle the increased volume. Officials are still talking with Butler County elections staff to find the answer.
Butler County was to report in-office and absentee early votes by 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday night, and Corbin said they had the results in hand but could not upload them due to what is initially believed as a server issue. The board posted a PDF of the early voting results at 8:30 p.m. Corbin and Director Diane Noonan said it was “frustrating” to have the results file ready to upload but experience issues.
“We had the results file ready, and we were uploading it. We don’t know what happened,” said Corbin, who added they immediately contacted Tenex and notified the Ohio Secretary of State. “So, we’re waiting to find out what the official word is on what they say happened.”
Corbin said after their conversation with Tenex on Wednesday morning, “this isn’t going to happen in March (presidential primary). We’re going to find out.”
The Butler County Republican Party and West Chester Twp. Trustee Ann Becker said trustee candidate David Corfman was being “deceptive” when handing out slate cards Tuesday implying he was endorsed the county or state GOP.
Corfman said his mailer sent out before Election Day and a sample slate card his volunteers handed out at select voting locations were not deceptive. He said he was endorsed by multiple Republicans and Democrats, and literature never indicated he was endorsed by the political party.
“I am a Republican who was endorsed, and that’s where I’m using Republican as adverb versus a noun, and I overestimated their ability to understand that difference. I’ve been endorsed by lots of people, and plenty of Republicans who by the way who are afraid to say anything by the push back you’re seeing here,” Corfman said.
“It never said Republican endorsed … and I was trying to express that people did endorse me as well, and the fact that I am a Republican,” he said.
Butler County GOP Executive Chairman Todd Hall said Corfman “plainly labels himself as ‘Endorsed Republican’ on his mailed literature piece to West Chester voters.” Becker and Corfman both sought the GOP endorsement, but the party chose Becker to be the endorsed candidate, he said.
“This is an unfortunate misrepresentation of our highly valued endorsement process, and a slap in the face to the voters of West Chester,” Hall said.
Becker said the slate card being handed out was intended to “manipulate, confuse and deceive voters.” Corfman said it was “simply a list of Republican candidates,” and whenever asked, he admitted he was not endorsed by the county party.
Becker beat Corfman on Tuesday 57.9 percent to 42.2 percent, according to unofficial election results.
Poor voter turnout
Only 19.2 percent of Butler County’s 244,285 registered voters cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election, according to unofficial election results.
Election officials before the election believed it could be as high as 25 percent, which was the turnout in 2017. Higher voter turnout historically is driven by countywide and statewide issues, none of which were on Tuesday’s ballot.
Miami University Regionals political science professor John Forren said the turnout was “discouraging low — but not surprising at all in light of our state’s history with elections that lack any marquee races.”
“As with other odd-year elections, history tells us that most Ohioans will simply sit out today’s vote — even though the outcomes of the races being decided (Tuesday) will likely have dramatic effects on some of our local communities,” he said. “For better or worse, voters tend to focus on the high profile races in American politics.”
He said the majority of Butler County let a minority of voters decide who controls the school boards, city and village councils, township trustees, and municipal judges— “all of which will be important in the years to come in determining the quality of life here in Butler County. Many of the most impactful public policy decisions that will be made … by local officials who are chosen for office only by their local communities.”
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