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Broward Vote-Counting Blunder Changes Amendment Result

News4Jax   November 4, 2004
BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. The Broward County Elections Department has egg on its face today after a computer glitch misreported a key amendment race, according to WPLG-TV in Miami.

Broward County Mayor Ilene Lieberman says voting counting error is an "embarrassing mistake."
Amendment 4, which would allow Miami-Dade and Broward counties to hold a future election to decide if slot machines should be allowed at racetracks, was thought to be tied. But now that a computer glitch for machines counting absentee ballots has been exposed, it turns out the amendment passed.

"The software is not geared to count more than 32,000 votes in a precinct. So what happens when it gets to 32,000 is the software starts counting backward," said Broward County Mayor Ilene Lieberman.

That means that Amendment 4 passed in Broward County by more than 240,000 votes rather than the 166,000-vote margin reported Wednesday night. That increase changes the overall statewide results in what had been a neck-and-neck race, one for which recounts had been going on today. But with news of Broward's error, it's clear amendment 4 passed.

Officials said the glitch did not affect the outcome of any other races. The vote-counting error did affect totals for amendments 4 through 8. But amendment 4 was the only race for which the corrected numbers changed the result.

Lieberman admits that the error is an embarrassing mistake.

"I think the people have a right to expect that when the numbers come up on screen that those numbers in fact the actual total numbers at each step of the process and not just after the final vote has been certified," Lieberman said.

Putney said there is a lot of finger-pointing going on in the elections department. Lieberman blames ES&S Systems, which manufactures the software in question. She says they've known about the problem for at least two years because there was a Broward County mayoral race in which the same thing happened. She said nothing was done about it.

Miami-Dade County also uses ES&S Systems. That county did not have the same problem Broward did because it uses different software, according to WPLG.

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