Some problems crop up in Florida vote
Nick Juliano
Published: Tuesday January 29, 2008 |
Print This  Email This

Critics not yet raising major alarms

A handful of Florida voters are reporting technical glitches and other problems in counties using touch-screen voting machines. Early reports indicated the problems were small, and critics of the machines so far have not raised major alarms.

The office of Rep. Robert Wexler, a south-Florida Democrat who is a leading critic of touch-screen machines, received only a few complaints Tuesday morning and passed those concerns along to the state's supervisor or elections, a spokeswoman tells RAW STORY. But so far the congressman and his staff do not see large-scale problems developing.

"We haven't been getting flooded with calls," said the spokeswoman, who works in Wexler's DC office but is not authorized to speak on the record. Two people called his Florida offices and one call was received in Washington, she said.

"If we'd started to get calls from lots of constituents ... we'd be all over it," she added.

After Tuesday's election, Palm Beach County, part of which Wexler represents, will phase out its touch-screen machines in favor of paper optical-scan ballots.

Florida news outlets reported some delays in opening polling places and malfunctioning machines in at least one precinct.

"There has been a major failure of the voting, at least at this precinct. ... None of the machines worked," Rabbi Richard Yellin, who was first in line at his polling place in Boynton Beach, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Yellin said he had to leave the precinct to attend a service at his synagogue and planned to return later in the day.

The Palm Beach Post documented glitches at other polling locations as well. Someone mistakenly shut down voting machines at a precinct in Delray Beach and another polling place in Boynton Beach opened nearly an hour late, according to the paper.

The Palm Beach County elections supervisor, Arthur Anderson, pronounced himself a "satisfied customer" after what he said was a smooth vote at his own polling place, but reporters had to take his word for it.

"[U]nlike his predecessor, former Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore, Anderson would not allow reporters to follow him into the polling place to verify that the machines had all been booted and to observe any problems voters might be having," the Post's Ron Hayes reported. "He insisted journalists remain 150 feet from the polling place, although that demarcation was not clearly marked outside."

MSNBC's Kerry Sanders reported a "minor irritation" for voters at a half-dozen polling places in Broward County, when voting machines failed to read voters' drivers licenses to verify their identities. The machines have been repaired, and elections officials told Sanders that voters had the opportunity to vote, although they had to wait longer than expected.

In Dade County, touch-screen systems also caused a few problems, Sanders reported. Computer chips voters have to be inserted into the machines, but some voters were given chips that did not properly register which party's primary they wished to vote in.

"Minor problems," Sanders said. "Certainly not the problems we've seen in Florida in years past."