The reason for this were surprising numbers discovered by County Auditor Marilyn Jo Drake that were being read by the computers in certain races, particularly that for county recorder between longtime Recorder John Sciortino and newcomer Oscar Duran.
Early returns, according to the computers, showed Duran with a good lead, with Sciortino barely hanging on as the final counts approached. Drake decided to call for a quick hand count of the absentee ballots and found it was Sciortino who had, not surprisingly, the big lead. She then announced Tuesday's entire vote would be hand counted.
The manual count got under way around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday with 20 volunteers, all of whom have had recounting experience in the past.
Before they began, Drake received the required permission for the hand count from the county's Board of Supervisors.
"I'm convinced we had a malfunction of our equipment," Drake told the board, adding she had no idea what the malfunction was.
She told the board her office was in constant communication with the Iowa Secretary of State's office to ensure things were to be done in legal fashion. Drake said the count would be done as quickly as possible, but that it could take at least 16 hours.
The board was also told that her staff did prior testing on the new equipment before Tuesday's election.
"We ran into no snags," Drake said.
New modems that transfer information from the polling sites to the auditor's office but have nothing to do with the actual vote count were not tested before Tuesday's election, Drake said; but she and the board agreed that would not have prevented the counting errors.
Asked by Supervisor Lynn Leaders if Pottawattamie County was the only county in Iowa to experience such problems in Tuesday's statewide primary, Drake said, "I don't know, but I would assume yes."
There were other problems in addition to the counting errors, Drake said.
"Something isn't jiving," she said.
The new system allows precincts to phone their results in to a main computer at the Courthouse to record all the votes. Election officials knew in advance that two of the 41 county precincts would have to bring in their results because they didn't have the proper equipment to phone them in.
However, as the counting progressed after the polls closed, it was learned that up to 15 precincts were unable to phone in their tallies and had to bring them in to be counted at the Courthouse.
That resulted in much a longer waiting time for those who came to witness the results.
And it concerned board Chairman Loren Knauss.
"I liked the old system. It was far more dependable. A computer in the courthouse counted the votes. They drove the ballots in and scanned them on a computer," he said. "The new system will eventually work out, but it will take a couple of elections cycles to work the bugs out."
Drake was able to see the errors from paper ballots that voters still use. Some counties now exclusively use touch screen machines that don't utilize paper ballots. Pottawattamie County, however, is not one of those, according to Deputy Auditor Gary Herman. The county does have some machines for the visually impaired that can be touched with markers, but they have paper ballot verifications.
Herman doesn't like the touch screen machines with no paper ballots.
"I love paper trails," Herman said.
While some like the touch screen models, Herman said, "If you program them wrong, it would do the same thing (as Tuesday's counting errors)."