Sept. 25--The fate of the two finalists vying to be Boston's next mayor started to unfold at 8:30 p.m. last night when the first scanners from 10 of the Hub's 255 precincts arrived at the Elections Department, kicking off the election night frenzy.
Two lawyers volunteering for City Councilor John R. Connolly's campaign stood nearby, attentively monitoring the election workers as they unloaded the laptop bags that contained the devices that stored the electronic memory of each precinct's votes and a tape.
"This is part of ensuring the integrity of the process. They have to account for all the hardware," said Charles Stewart, an MIT political science professor, who joined several reporters last night to witness as the scanners -- which are personally delivered to City Hall by police officers from each of the 180 polling locations -- were wheeled into the basement office inside City Hall in giant laundry bins.
"You can observe everything. The results will not be touched by human hands, whereas in the olden days, they would bring in handwritten sheets and they would be typed in. A lot of chance for human error," said Stewart, who visited a half-dozen precincts in the North and South Ends, South Boston and Charlestown.
But the high-tech system still had a few missteps. A computer caused a "server error" on the Election Department's website, preventing the results from being immediately posted online. After it was corrected 30 minutes later, the system went haywire again, eliminating 50 precincts that were already tabulated and Martin Walsh's lead -- making Charlotte Golar Richie the leader. It was all quickly corrected.
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