Computer May Have
Lost 4,500 NC Votes

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. - More than 4,500 votes may be lost in one North Carolina county because officials believed a computer that stored ballots electronically could hold more data than it did. Scattered other problems may change results in local races around the state.
Officials are investigating whether the lost votes in coastal Carteret County can be retrieved somehow, said state Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett.
Local officials said UniLect Corp., the maker of the county's electronic voting system, told them that each storage unit could handle 10,500 votes, but the limit was actually 3,005 votes.
Expecting the greater capacity, the county used only one unit during the early voting period. "If we had known, we would have had the units to handle the votes," said Sue Verdon, secretary of the county election board.
Officials said 3,005 early votes were stored, but 4,530 were lost.
UniLect, based in Dublin, Calif., did not immediately return a phone call Thursday seeking comment. County election officials were in a meeting and did not return a message seeking comment.
Two statewide races remained undecided Thursday, for superintendent of public instruction, where the two candidates are about 6,700 votes apart, and agriculture commissioner, where they are only hundreds of votes apart.
How those two races might be affected by problems in individual counties was uncertain. At least 72,000 provisional ballots are still to be counted, with four counties not yet reporting those figures, Bartlett said.
In Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, a discrepancy was reported in the number of early votes cast. Before the election, the county election office said 102,109 people voted early or returned valid absentee ballots. Unofficial results from election night showed 106,064 of those votes.
Elections director Michael Dickerson said election officials had not lost any votes and he noted the results were not official yet.
A recount could change results in county commission races.
Nationwide, only scattered problems were reported in electronic voting, though roughly 40 million people casting digital ballots, voting equipment company executives had said.
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