NCSBE: Incorrect results entered in Warren County

WARREN COUNTY, N.C. — NCSBE is investigating after incorrect results were entered online for Warren County.

A spokesperson for NCSBE says preliminary indication shows test results were inadvertently uploaded with election returns. NCSBE believes human error is to blame.

According to NCSBE, there are only 41 registered Libertarian voters, one registered green party voter and one registered constitution party voter in Warren County. But results posted online show more than 800 people voted in the Libertarian presidential primary, 153 voted in the constitution presidential primary and 79 people voted in the green presidential primary. While the 2,486 unaffiliated voters of Warren County could theoretically select the Libertarian ballot, the constitution and green parties have closed primaries in North Carolina, meaning only registered members of those parties can vote in primary contests.

In the Libertarian presidential primary, many of the results were in patterns. Four people received 78 votes each, five people received 52 votes each, and five people received 26 votes each. In 2016, there were only two votes in the Libertarian presidential primary.

It is unclear how widespread the errors are and if all races are impacted. The results posted online show 773 people voted for a Democratic presidential candidate who had already dropped out of the race. That is 17 percent of all votes cast for the democratic presidential primary. According to NCSBE’s website, turnout for Warren County was 56 percent.

An NCSBE staff member is in Warren County to address the issue.

A spokesperson for NCSBE stresses results online are unofficial and the Board of Elections has results tape, media cards and physical paper ballots that can be recounted if necessary. The issue would have been caught during the post audit process, according to NCSBE.

The NCSBE released the following statement Thursday.

"On the evening of the primary on March 3, the Warren County Board of Elections inadvertently included test data in the unofficial election results posted online. These data were left over from the Logic and Accuracy (L&A) testing that the county performed prior to the election to ensure accuracy of their machines and coding. A review of the L&A test data used by the county board indicates this data was the source of the error. The error was discovered after multiple sources reported that results in the presidential preference primary indicated far greater votes in the Constitution and Green party presidential primaries than there are registered voters affiliated in those parties in the county.

Today at 2pm the Warren County Board of Elections will hold an emergency meeting to enter correct results into the tabulation software. County staff have confirmed that the paper tapes that printed out at the precincts on election night after the close of the polls have the correct results. They have also located “zero tapes” for each precinct that demonstrate that there were no votes on any of the machines at the opening of the polls on Election Day morning. State Board staff will be present to assist the county board.

The incorrect results displayed on the unofficial election night results was due to human error caused by uploading incorrect files. We have no reason to believe that there was any machine error. The error could occur in a county using any type of election equipment, and would have been caught by one of the numerous audits that take place prior to canvass. For example, the county board of elections will perform a sample hand-to-eye audit of two voting sites prior to the county canvass, and this would have caught the problem. This is why election night results are always unofficial and do not become official until after the canvass when all post-election audits have been completed."

Warren County is in the northeast part of the state. Its county seat is Warrenton and has a population of about 20,000. It is three hours from Charlotte.