Both the Arizona secretary of state’s new website and Cochise County’s election website crashed shortly after ballot counting began in Tuesday’s primary, but officials maintain the problems were isolated and will not recur in the November general election.
Although the websites started reporting information later in the evening, both incidents are only the latest in a string of election-related problems for the two government agencies.
The crash of the state’s website prevented the public from easily accessing primary election results and led to comments blasting the Secretary of State’s Office on Twitter.
The reporting website crashed for the first time shortly after early results were posted around 8 p.m. Tuesday. It continued to intermittently produce results throughout the night, occasionally producing messages saying “Error” or “This site can’t be reached” or “Service unavailable.”
“We are showing accurate results — certainly not at the rate we want to,” Matt Roberts, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said Tuesday evening.
Even before it crashed, the website was posting some incorrect information Tuesday evening, suggesting the state had 10.2 million registered voters. Arizona has slightly more than 3.4 million registered voters.
The site had been touted by Secretary of State Michele Reagan as a replacement for a glitch-prone website that also led to reporting delays in the 2012 and 2014 election cycles.
On Wednesday, Roberts blamed a “locked file” as the culprit for crashing the website on election night and was confident it won’t happen again in November.
Roberts said the system was stress-tested before Tuesday night, but he did not have figures on how many simultaneous connections the site could handle.
Reagan said in the weeks leading up to the election that the website had been upgraded to a system that would get results quicker. The results would be posted in real time and users wouldn’t have to refresh the page for updates and new numbers.
The new website, launched on Friday, was developed by state employees. “Not only do we think people will find it greatly improved, we also saved money by developing the site ourselves,” Reagan said.
In Cochise County, meanwhile, officials used a helicopter to deliver memory cards to neighboring Graham County to be counted after equipment failures during the 2014 primary. The same machines failed again during the general election two months later in 2014, with Cochise again having to send ballots to the next county to be counted.
Joe Casey, the chief technology officer for Cochise County, said one of the county servers had to be rebooted twice on Tuesday’s election night, but results were delayed only for a few minutes. Some users reported, however, that they couldn’t access the site for a couple of hours.
Casey said while they are still investigating the issue, he doesn’t believe there will be any issue again on election night in November.
In Pima County, officials reported they will be counting an estimated 18,000 ballots that were not tallied on election night.