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Sarasota County notes some voting glitches

TODD RUGER   Southwest Florida Herald Tribune   07 November 2007

SARASOTA COUNTY Optical scanners broke down at three precincts Tuesday morning, meaning some votes had to be put into locked bins to be counted at the end of the day, election officials said.

"We had to swap out the scanners," Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent said. "There's a separate bin on the side for ballots that are not scanned."

Those ballots were set aside to be run through the scanners at the end of the night, Dent said.

Poll workers representing both political parties must reconcile the number of ballots given to voters with the number tallied by the machines.

Voters generally said they were confident their votes were counted, though by the end of the night there were a handful of complaints.

One man at Precinct 18 on North Tamiami Trail said his ballot was rejected four times before poll workers put it in a slot to be counted later.

He wrote an e-mail to Dent saying he left "the polling center concerned, disappointed, and questioning the integrity of the election results."

Jason Boehk said his ballot got stuck in the machine in Precinct 37 on 12th Street because the scanner was not working about 7:10 a.m.

He was one of several people who left without seeing the ballot fed into the machine.

"I literally had to leave it there in limbo," said Boehk, who was told there were no complaint forms when he asked for one.

Mary Ann Bassignani said the optical scanner at her 3375 Fruitville Road precinct would not take her ballot.

The poll worker ed it again and the ballot went into the machine, but when she and the poll worker looked at the counter on the machine it said "Ballot not counted, please re- ballot," Bassignani said.

Since the machine had taken the ballot, there was no ballot to re-.

Bassignani was given a provisional ballot.

Several voters noted that poll workers provided felt tip pens to fill in circles while ballot instructions said to use a No. 2 pencil.

In general, the first try for the county's new optical scan voting system went "just as we expected," Dent said.

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