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Glitches blemish S. Fla. voting   (FL)

LUISA YANEZ AND MARTIN MERZER    Miami Herald   29 January 2008

Mysterious glitches cost some voters in Miami-Dade and Broward counties the opportunity Tuesday to vote for their candidates in the presidential primaries.

In some cases, it might have been voter error people who failed to register properly as a Democrat or Republican.

In others, the problem might be attributed to mistakes in county registration rolls, though county election officials disputed that.

In several cases, the failure involved poorly trained election workers who apparently activated machines with the wrong ballots and, in some cases, were utterly confounded by the election.

Among the affected: Miami Herald Theater Critic Christine Dolen, who voted at precinct T010 on Pine Island Road in Davie or at least tried.

When she checked into the polling place, Dolen received confirmation of her status as a registered Democrat.

She cast her vote on the property-tax amendment and, then, to her dismay, discovered that the ballot for the Democratic presidential primary never appeared on her machine.

'I told the woman who had activated the machine for me, and she said, `You already voted sorry,' '' Dolen said. 'Then, I found the polling place supervisor, who said, `I think that's all Democrats get to vote on, since the presidential vote doesn't count.' ''

That is not true. The national Democratic Party, punishing Florida for its early primary, stripped the state of all of its convention delegates, but party members were encouraged to make their ions anyway.

'I went from person to person and basically got a response of, `Sorry. Nothing to be done.' Needless to say, I'm furious.''

Similar accounts arrived at The Miami Herald from about 20 voters, most of them residents of Miami-Dade.

All said they were registered as Democrats or Republicans, but ended up casting ballots as unaffiliated voters unable to choose a candidate in the primary.

Robert Spagnola, 52, of Miami Beach, ''a lifelong Democrat'' with a registration card to prove it, said he excitedly signed in and began voting for ``a change in America.''

Spagnola said he was surprised not to see the names of the presidential candidates pop up.

''The woman next to me said out loud that she couldn't see the slate of candidates on her machine, either,'' he said.

'Someone told us to push the `Vote' button and the names would come up. Well, when we both did, we got the: 'Thank you for voting' sign. It was over.'

Spagnola said poll workers told him he had voted as an independent and could not vote again.

''I was livid and the girl next to me began crying,'' he said. ``They had the nerve to tell use we should have noticed we were voting independent.''

Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor Lester Sola said the majority of the cases likely were attributed to voter error, but his staff was looking into the reports.

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