On Monday I read this blurb from the AP that Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan’s office says her technology team has launched an enhanced website to show voting returns from all 15 counties Tuesday night in real-time. New Arizona election reporting system to debut Tuesday.
My first thought was, “Oh no! Something else Michele Reagan can screw up this year.”
So how did it go? Just as you would expect from the queen of election screw-ups. ‘Error’: Arizona’s new elections site struggles in debut:
Instead, the website produced this message: “Error.”
The website continued to intermittently produce results throughout the night, occasionally producing messages saying, “This site can’t be reached” and “Service unavailable.”
A spokesman for Secretary of State Michele Reagan, when asked about the error messages around 8 p.m., told The Arizona Republic the office was “working on” the issues.
Hours later, Matt Roberts told The Republic he couldn’t say with certainty the root of the problems. He said it was unclear whether website traffic contributed to the problem, but issues uploading files from some county recorders delayed results.
You probably should start with your office’s “technology team” that built your web site.
The secretary of state’s problems come after the office built a system in-house following troubles with a prior vendor. By moving the system in-house, Roberts estimated the office saved $200,000 when compared with the office’s old contract for the services, for a total cost of $751,000.
Roberts said the officials had no regrets over changing the system: “Anytime you launch a new system, there’s going to be hiccups and we certainly experienced that right out the gate.”
Even before election night, Reagan said she was anxious about the website, telling the newspaper: “On election night, I’ll either be opening a bottle of champagne or a bottle of Jack Daniels.”
Drinking on the job? Really? Is this another problem?
UPDATE: The Secretary of State’s office claims to have found the problem in its new web site. Why you waited for election results Tuesday night:
The slowdown in reporting election results Tuesday night was due to a faulty automated email the office generated, blocking feeds into the Arizona secretary of state’s online system, the office said Wednesday.
The system repeatedly displayed error messages just as early returns were released, and as candidates, the media and the public were visiting the site. The results displayed sporadically until late evening, although spokesman Matt Roberts said the problem was resolved in the 9 o’clock hour.
Roberts said the office sends an XML file with election results to media outlets. It automatically resends the email as new results come in. But because the Secretary of State’s Office’s new system didn’t test “as rigorously as it could have” for that interaction, it created an unexpected jam, Secretary of State Michele Reagan said in a blog post on the Secretary of State’s Office’s website.
Staffers who developed the system, which was built in-house, figured out a workaround that allowed election results to feed into the online system. It was working smoothly by late evening.
Meanwhile, the staff also has fixed the problem with the automated emails, so the blockage should not recur, Roberts said.