10-18-2004, 09:55 AM #1
Florida alll over again... It has begun
Computer problems reported at some early voting sites
By Jean-Paul Renaud
October 18, 2004, 11:25 AM EDT
Problems were being reported at nine of 14 early voting sites in Broward County on Monday morning.
Gisela Salas, of the Broward Elections Office, said workers were having problems with a live database connection that is used to verify that a voter is properly registered.
The sites, Salas said, that were unaffected were at satellite offices in Deerfield Beach, Hollywood, Lauderhill, Pembroke Pines and Plantation.
All the branch offices were reported having problems with the database connection. Many of the sites had voters lined up to cast their ballots.
Voters at several sites said poll workers told them the problems started 20 minutes to 30 minutes after the early polling stations opened at 8:30 a.m. The stations close at 6 p.m.
In Palm Beach County, the center of the madness during the 2000 presidential recount, a state legislator said she wasn't given a complete absentee ballot when she asked not to use the electronic touch-screen machines. And in Orange County, the touch-screen system briefly crashed, paralyzing voting in Orlando and its immediate suburbs.
State Rep. Shelley Vana, D-Lantana, was the seventh person in line Monday at a Palm Beach County early voting site.
She said the paper absentee ballot she was given was missing one of its two pages, including the proposed amendments to the state constitution. She said election workers were indifferent when she pointed out the oversight.
``There was absolutely no concern on the part of the folks at the Supervisor of Elections Office that this page was missing. This is not a good start. If there are incomplete ballots out there, I can't imagine I would be the only one getting it,'' she said.
Elections supervisor Theresa LePore did not immediately return a call for comment.
In Orange County, the computers went down for about 10 minutes shortly after voting began, said Margaret Dunn, the senior deputy elections supervisor. She said she did not know what caused the problem, but speculated a faulty Internet connection may have been to blame.
Texas, Colorado and Arkansas also began casting early ballots Monday, 15 days before Election Day. Other key states this year have already begun in-person voting, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.
In Palm Beach County, a steady flow of voters cast early ballots. Robin Punches, a stay-at-home mom from West Palm Beach, said she came early to vote because she heard it would increase the chance of her vote being accurately counted. It was her first time using the touch-screen voting machines.
``It tells you exactly what to do. It's idiot proof,'' she said.
In Miami-Dade County, where early voting sites were to open later Monday, about 150 people gathered for a rally led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. Some people were carrying homemade signs that said ``Early Voting Counts'' and ``Every Vote Matters.''
Rosemarie Michel, 41, said she would cast her first vote in a presidential election when the early voting poll site. Michel came to the United States from Haiti, became a U.S. citizen in 1998 but did not vote in the 2000 election because she ``wasn't interested.''
Now she is knocking on doors and telling people to vote.
``Every vote counts,'' Michel said.
Early voting was introduced in Florida after the 2000 election, in which this crucial state decided the result by only 537 votes and introduced topics such as butterfly ballots and hanging chads to the national debate.
Both President Bush and his Democratic challenger, John Kerry, arranged campaign swings through the Sunshine State over the weekend to coincide with the start of early voting.
``There are probably a lot of people in Florida who are ready to cast their ballot,'' said Mindy Tucker Fletcher, senior adviser for the Bush campaign in Florida.
Some groups are urging voters to cast a paper absentee ballot because of concerns over the state's new touch-screen voting machines and any potential recounts. Others are touting it as a chance for busy voters to avoid waiting in line Nov. 2. ``It's going to be changing the way candidates campaign because they have to get their message out to people two to three weeks earlier than in the past,'' LePore said last week.
Some have criticized the concept of early voting, saying it increases opportunities for vote fraud without significantly boosting voter participation. Still, most states offer the option of early voting.
Across Florida, Democratic college students camped overnight at election offices to be the first in line Monday. The state's congressional black caucus is traveling to five cities over four days to emphasize early voting and voter protection. State Rep. Anne Gannon, a Delray Beach Democrat, is hosting a get-out-the-vote barbecue.
Gov. Jeb Bush disagrees with a plan to open only one early voting place in downtown Jacksonville to cover all of Duval County, and Secretary of State Glenda Hood urged the county Saturday ``to increase accessibility'' to early voting.
A Jacksonville city attorney has said it is too late to open new sites even though the city council has committed more money to the idea. With 500,000 voters, Duval is the state's most populous county with only one site.
For voters in Palm Beach County, home of the infamous butterfly ballot, many are still upset about Al Gore's loss in 2000. The get-out-the-vote effort has attracted record attention, said Fred Dibean, vice president of the county's Young Democrats.
``The problem happened here last time, and we don't want it to happen again,'' he said. ``We want to be the ones to fix it.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
10-18-2004, 09:55 AM #2
Get your print out if you live in FLA
10-18-2004, 11:11 AM #3
GW is gonna steal another one.......US is looking like a third world democracy......we have crooked elections too
10-18-2004, 11:32 AM #4Originally Posted by Badgerman
10-18-2004, 01:36 PM #5Originally Posted by Will Power
10-18-2004, 02:03 PM #6
obv florida cant handle elections either we A) wipe out there electoral votes and pro-rate the other normal states or B) get over a huge loud speaker and say "whoever wants bush/Kerry/Nader raise your hand".
10-18-2004, 03:22 PM #7Originally Posted by biglouie250
10-19-2004, 08:46 AM #8Originally Posted by Badgerman
10-19-2004, 09:05 AM #9Originally Posted by Badgerman
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