Election firm blames Wayne Co. delays on coding, server issues, turnout

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News
Jeff DeLongchamp, president of Election Source, explains the causes of delays in reporting data on election night.

Detroit — The president of the software company used by the Wayne County Clerk's Office to display results in the Aug. 7 primary election said Monday that delays and inaccuracies were caused by a server issue, an error in coding and massive voter turnout that night.

Jeff DeLongchamp, president of ElectionSource, spoke to the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, addressing questions about why website results were not posted in a timely or accurate manner on primary night.

"This was an error in our map and a record-breaking data size with almost 3,200 contests and over 60,000 individual database entries which taxed our site beyond its ability," he said.

"This was 10 times over any previous election we had done before," DeLongchamp said.

DeLongchamp said the Wayne County Clerk's Office did not play any role in the glitch and the problem was all on ElectionSource's end.

He also said his company provides a display website only, with "with no ability to count official results at all," similar to media websites that post-election results.

"Our website has absolutely no connection to the actual voting process, the voting machines or the official results of the election," he said.

DeLongchamp explained the problem as old data passing by new data, saying that for a moment the two "high-fived" and caused the system to not display correctly.

ElectionSource took down the website at 9:30 p.m.Tuesday. When Wayne County officials asked them to keep it down, he did, DeLongchamp said.

DeLongchamp said he has completed a full report on what happened and will give that to the board.

"We can assure you this will never happen again. We found the error. We know what happened. ... Steps have been put in place to allow us to move forward in November," he said. 

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, center, took notes and recorded the meeting.

He said the map on the website will be 50 percent faster.

"We will be able to take in a much larger load of data so this will never happen again," he said. 

Wayne County Clerk Cathy M. Garrett was at the meeting. She also requested an investigation into ElectionSource and a report of the company's findings.

"This body here serves as an audit to all elections. ... It's important you understand there are various levels of controls in this process," Garrett said.

On Thursday, Wayne County Commissioner Jewel Ware called for an investigation into the system, saying said glitches with the website were "extremely problematic as the voting process should be error-free as well as voters should know the process is without issues.”

Wayne County officials and ElectionSource said last week the glitch caused a delay in results after the website received more data than the company anticipated. 

"I received phone calls from people who were concerned,” Ware told The News last week. “Then, after hours of reporting, the system came back and those numbers had decreased. It just wasn’t one number — it was several numbers."

ElectionSource has helped Wayne County report its election results since last November's election, DeLongchamp said.

Cathy M. Garrett, Wayne County Clerk, listens during the board meeting Monday afternoon.

Wayne County Board of Canvassers chair Jonathan Kinloch said he is satisfied with ElectionSource's explanation.

"I have a clear understanding that they had nothing to do with tabulation, just totaling dealing with the data turned over to them," Kinloch said. "Hopefully moving forward, they will anticipate the most extreme case of voter turnout so we don't deal with this issue again. A situation like this doesn't help the general public's faith in the election process."

Alexandria J. Taylor, a candidate for state House in the primary, attended the meeting and said the county should rethink the contract it has with ElectionSource.

"I feel like they are downplaying the seriousness of this saying it is just a display. What is the point of it all then? Just display on your own website," Taylor said.

On Friday, members of the House Detroit Caucus sent a letter to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers demanding an audit of Tuesday’s primary election results in light of issues at polling stations in Wayne County during the primary.

Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the Michigan Secretary of State, said his office has been in communication with state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit, about this issue and is trying to get more details from her about her specific concerns.

Gay-Dagnogo, who also attended Monday's meeting, said caucus members were contacted by Detroit residents who said they were being turned away from their former polling place only to find that poll workers did not have accurate information.

"From what we understand from Detroit elections staff, there were a few polling locations that were moved before the deadline, and we were told that affected voters were given proper notice, but we’ll follow up with the clerk’s office about that. The city has 490 precincts so it’s not uncommon to have some move each cycle," Woodhams said in an email on Monday.

"I want to add that the Wayne County canvassing board started its work on Wednesday to scrutinize all the results and ensure everything adds up. The concerns of the representative and others may be resolved by the canvassing process."