Luzerne County’s election results will be posted through a new website and server Nov. 5 to enhance the presentation of the vote tallies and prevent a computer crash similar to the one that slowed and blocked the live feed in the May primary, officials announced Tuesday.
The problem in May occurred when an onslaught of computer users simultaneously viewed and refreshed the county website after the polls closed, with 50,000 attempts to access the results between 8 and 10 p.m.
County Election Director Marisa Crispell-Barber said she originally ruled out purchasing the “Clarity Election Night Reporting” program from Florida-based SOE Software Corp. because the company gave a prior election director a quote of $54,000. She negotiated the price down to $7,000 annually for three years.
“I think the public will be happy, and the implementation of this software should resolve any issues experienced with website traffic,” said Crispell-Barber, who announced the plan during Tuesday’s election board meeting.
A link to the new site will be posted on the county web page (www.luzernecounty.org) several days before the election to allow the public to review a sample of the options. The county will periodically send results to SOE Software on election night for loading on its site.
The program allows the public to search for results by candidate, precinct or race. Maps, charts and graphs are available to put results in perspective, and reports can be downloaded in various formats — all options not available on the county website, Crispell-Barber said.
SOE Software provides election result hosting and display services to about 800 counties across the country, she said.
Another major Nov. 5 election change proposed by Crispell-Barber was approved by the election board: switching election night tallying from the courthouse to the county’s Penn Place building.
The courthouse has been the election night voting result hub for decades, but Crispell-Barber told the board it makes more sense to keep her staff and equipment at Penn Place where the election office is housed.
The change will save hundreds of dollars spent on moving vans and a computer company required to transport and temporarily set up election equipment, including a computer server, she said. The unnecessary jostling of computer equipment also was a concern, she said.
Crispell-Barber said there is plenty of available parking and office space at Penn Place, which is located at the corner of Market Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, for election workers to drop off returns and for the public and media to view results, she said.
The popularity of online voting results that began in 2007 has prompted fewer candidates and journalists to flock to the courthouse rotunda on election night, officials said.
In bygone days, the rotunda swarmed with candidates and officials awaiting results as dozens of county employees pecked at adding machines, tallying returns from the lever machines. Electronic voting machines and computerized readers that process absentee paper ballots drastically reduced the personnel necessary for tabulation.
“The tradition is gone. It ended the minute computers came out,” board solicitor Mike Butera said of the courthouse gatherings.