08 November 2004

Florida Again...

Why am I completely unsuprised by this info?



Broward vote total off in reporting glitch



Broward County's election didn't end as smoothly as it began: A
programming error sliced 34,000 votes from reported races on
Tuesday, and 70,000 more were deducted from total turnout.

By late Wednesday, election officials insisted that all the votes
were accounted for.

They said that the errors had no effect on the outcome of any races,
though voter turnout jumped from 35 percent to 45 percent after it
was corrected.

And it raised questions about the vote-counting and reporting
process for the county's $17.2 million electronic voting system that
could not be explained to the satisfaction of the three-member
canvassing board until late Wednesday.

Two things went wrong:

• The English-language results of early voting were tabulated as if
they come from one precinct. The total exceeded a preset maximum for
a single precinct. Thus the 34,000 early votes were not included in
the published totals for each race or in the overall turnout number.

• The absentee ballots and Spanish-language early voting results
were recorded in each individual race, but because of an operator
error in preparing a report those 70,000 were left out of the
overall turnout number.

The missing 104,000 led officials to initially report total turnout
of only 34 percent. The official corrected number of votes cast was
443,912, the canvassing board announced late Wednesday. A few
provisional ballots will be added to that total by 2 p.m. today,
when all votes must be sent to the state.

''The initial reports didn't include everything we tabulated,''
Deputy Supervisor Joe Cotter said.

''It was a minor software thing. Once we realized it, we took the
proper steps to fix it,'' he said.

Hours after the close of voting on Tuesday, members of the
canvassing board took notice of a discrepancy on printed summaries
of the vote totals from each race.

The reports showed more votes in the governor's race than the
reported total number of ballots cast.

''That was the red flag,'' said Charles Lindsey, an election monitor
from the state Division of Elections.

On Wednesday afternoon, the unreported votes came to light publicly,
sparking a barrage of questions. The canvassing board was meeting to
review absentee and provisional ballots, when its chairman,
Administrative Judge Jay Spechler, asked technicians to explain the
missing votes.

A minor uproar ensued.

Ed Pozzuoli, a lawyer representing the state Republican Party,
complained that the timing of Wednesday's revelation was curious,
given that several observers were there to monitor returns in the
tight District 97 race between Sandy Halperin and Nan Rich.

''This causes great suspicion, Judge,'' Pozzuoli told Spechler.

Spechler responded that the discrepancy was caught late Tuesday, and
was unrelated to any examination of the District 97 race, in which
Rich was reported to be leading by fewer than 100 votes at the close
of tallying Tuesday. The final report put her ahead by 542 votes.

''We knew there was a mistake, we just didn't know where it was,''
said Norman Ostrau, a deputy county attorney.


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