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1997 Computerization

1997 Computerization

In 1997 the Election Commission computerized the City of Cambridge PR elections using a precinct-based optical scanning system and specially designed software. The PR count, which used to be performed manually during the course of a week by a staff of over a hundred, is now completed in a matter of minutes through the electronic sorting, counting, and transfer of votes.

Unofficial results are available on election night. These results are “unofficial” because all ballots have not been counted. The tabulation does not include ballots with write-ins or ballots marked in a way that cannot be read by the scanners. These are auxiliary ballots that must be processed manually and added to the computer totals. They are added on the day after elections. Only there are the results declared to be official.

To learn more about the unfolding of a PR election in Cambridge, check the Cambridge Board of Elections official website:


Error rate

In Cambridge, the elections have an average of 3.16% error rate.  This figure includes both incorrectly marked ballots and blank ballots where the voter may have only participated in a higher-level election.  In the future, to further reduce this error rate, Cambridge could allow error correction for the voters.

There were very few invalid ballots.

2005    City Council election                 0.81% 
2005    School Committee election     4.44%
2007    City Council election                 0.64%
2007    School Committee election     3.16%
              Average                                       2.26%