IT problems create Florida election snafu

Two of the Florida counties at the centre of the 2000 USA election fiasco are again in the spotlight after a series of...

Two of the Florida counties at the centre of the 2000 USA election fiasco are again in the spotlight after a series of computer-related glitches.

Florida's primary election on Tuesday (10 September) was marred by a variety of human and technical problems, most of which occurred in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, according to published reports.

The technical problems involved new electronic voting systems that either malfunctioned or were improperly operated, exacerbated by poll workers who either didn't show up for work or didn't do their jobs properly, Florida news outlets have reported. This led to polling stations opening late and created problems tabulating votes, prompting Governor Jeb Bush to order that polling stations remain open for two additional hours.

Voting proceeded normally in most of Florida's 67 counties, prompting Secretary of State Jim Smith to say that "for 65 of those counties, they did a good job and two counties get an F minus, minus, minus," according to an article posted on Wednesday on the Web site of the Fort Lauderdale-based Sun Sentinel newspaper.

In Miami-Dade, 110 precincts were reporting that almost three hours after the polls opened, at least half of their voting machines didn't work, according to a Miami Herald article.

It remains unclear how many voters were unable to exercise their right to vote because of the election day problems. No one from the Broward and Miami-Dade supervisor of election offices was available for comment.

After the 2000 election problems, the state and the counties revamped voting systems statewide, so that for this week's election, all Florida voters had access to either paper-based ballots designed to be read by a scanner or to touch-screen voting devices, according to Florida Department of State's Division of Elections Web site.

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