By Scott Robertson
A glitch caused by human error, which resulted in an unexpected, after-midnight turnabout in Washington County’s 6th District County Commission race can be traced to March 19 and a reversal in the alphabetical order of Tom Foster and Mark Ferguson’s names on the electronic ballot.
As a result of incomplete correction of the error, results Tuesday night showed that Mark Ferguson had run first in the GOP Primary, and that Foster had placed fourth. The top three vote-getters move on to the general election in August.
Election Commission chief Maybell Stewart explained the events leading up to Tuesday’s confusion, which left Ferguson and supporters thinking for several hours he had won, and Foster’s camp assuming he had lost. Stewart said that Microvote, an Indianapolis company, sent the first ballot proofs to her office in Jonesborough March 19.
Stewart told the News & Neighbor she noticed that Foster’s name was listed above Ferguson’s on the ballot, and emailed the company back that same day to inform them. While the column showing the candidates’ names was corrected in the software, Stewart said, the columns showing early/absentee and election day vote totals remained transposed.
Stewart met with Foster at the Election Commission office Wednesday morning, and told him “the final result is, you won.” She explained the error by Microvote and told Foster Microvote would be issuing a statement confirming what had happened.
Said Foster, “I have full faith in the Election Commission and the system, and I appreciate all the hard work they did.”