New Brunswick

Elections NB reports technical glitches at 3 polling stations

At least three ridings reported problems with tabulation machines as people came out to vote in the provincial election Monday.

Tabulation machines are located in greater Saint John and the north side of Fredericton

Voters were having issues with three tabulation machines on Monday. (CBC)

At least three ridings reported problems with tabulation machines as people came out to vote in the provincial election Monday.

"Like anything, we've experienced a few startup issues … some are operator error-related," said Paul Harpelle, a spokesperson for Elections New Brunswick. "Others it was just the involvement of not properly assembling the tabulation box that it sits on."

For the New Brunswick election, tabulation machines were brought in from Ontario, where they were used in the provincial election earlier this year.

In Fredericton, Harpelle said one of the tabulators was not working at a church on the city's north side. 

"They followed the normal procedure, which is to allow voters to deposit their ballots in an auxiliary slot in the ballot box that tabulator sits on," he said.  

Harpelle didn't know why the machine stopped working but said it was replaced with a new machine a short time later.

Easy fix 

In Hampton and Saint John Harbour, two ridings in the greater Saint John area, also issues with the tabulation machines throughout the day.

For one of the machines, Harpelle said, the assembly of the ballot box that the tabulator sits on was not "done correctly."

"As a result, ballots were not able to pass through the machine and drop into the box," he said. "In that case, they required utilizing the auxiliary slot."  

Harpelle said this can be a common problem, and it was fixed over the phone.

An individual also mistakenly shut down another machine, which resulted in closing a poll instead of opening it. This meant 61 ballots were put into the auxiliary slot, while Elections New Brunswick worked to get the machine up and running again. 

"When you have 400 plus machines in the field, it's not that unusual that you will have some hiccups along the way," he said.

Machine crisis of 2014

After polls closed on election night in 2014, results started coming in but then suddenly stopped.

Elections New Brunswick stopped updating its results website for more than 90 minutes and by 11 p.m. no riding had 100 per cent of the votes counted.

After the election night debacle, Dominion Voting Systems, the company that provided tabulation machines in the 2014 election and was doing so again this year, blamed the lack of results on an "off-the-shelf computer program" that malfunctioned.

Elections New Brunswick said it didn't expect those problems this year.