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What happened to Suffolk County ballots on Election Night?

South Carolina's new voting machines mark a paper ballot with a bar code and the selected candidates' names.
Elaine Cromie
/
NPR
A view of a ballot scanner at a New York City Board of Elections voting machine facility warehouse.

Suffolk County election officials said there was no connection between a cybersecurity attack this summer and a two-hour delay in processing ballots on Election Day.

The bipartisan board of elections said ongoing upgrades to its computer system and “additional processing functions” in place for the midterm elections delayed reporting results until early Wednesday morning.

Ballots are typically digitized and reported from 24 regional polling hubs. A severe uploading backlog led election officials to transport over 1,400 memory cards containing ballot data to Board of Elections offices in Yaphank.

This has happened before when individual polling hubs experienced glitches in previous elections. This year, all of the hubs transported their data to the secure central location for reporting “out of an abundance of caution” to ensure integrity of the election.

The concern was whether a recent cybersecurity attack or a new firewall installed afterwards created the backlog. Still, leaders from both sides of the aisle say the goal on Election Day was “not to be quick, but to be accurate.”

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.