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Delay, glitch creates headache for St. Lucie voters  (FL)

Derek Simmonsen    TCPalm   31 January 2008

Voting generally went smooth across the Treasure Coast on Tuesday, though two counties experienced delays because of problems with precincts electronically sending in votes.

The most severe delay occurred in St. Lucie County, where officials narrowly made the state's deadline of turning in votes by 11:59 p.m. Votes were delayed from two precincts at Harbour Place, an assisted living facility in Port St. Lucie, as poll workers tried unsuccessfully to electronically send them over, said Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker.

When officials at headquarters attempted to call the poll workers, they were unable to reach them on a landline phone at the precinct or through cell phones provided to the workers. The workers had already packed the phones away, Walker said.

Walker said her office called 911 to make sure the workers had not been in a car accident while transporting ballots and also called the homes of poll workers to try to track them down. Finally, they reached an employee at Harbour Place who was able to tell them that the workers had left only moments before.

Standard procedure is for workers to transport ballots to election headquarters if they have problems sending them electronically, Walker said.

"It was just bad judgment on their part," Walker said. "It won't happen again."

The county also had problems with a software glitch that kept all the votes reported to the state from showing up on the county's elections Web site. That problem was fixed by the end of the night, but anyone checking the site Tuesday night wouldn't have immediately had the complete results.

The extra early and absentee ballots actually helped things, as officials were able to start counting those votes ahead of election night, she said. St. Lucie has typically turned in its results early and Walker said she was disappointed in the delay Tuesday night.

A similar problem occurred in Okeechobee, as poll workers at several precincts tried unsuccessfully to send results electronically and were delayed, said Supervisor of Elections Gwen Chandler. The county sent in its final results at 9:45 p.m., though workers should have come to elections headquarters sooner with the votes, Chandler said.


Martin County Supervisor of Elections Vicki Davis said she had no problems or delays, outside of frequent phone calls from the public to election headquarters with questions, and they were able to send their results in by 9:30 p.m.


Indian River County had one polling place with some long lines, but it didn't cause any major problems and there were no other delays, said Indian River County Supervisor of Elections Kay Clem. Final results were in at 9:10 p.m.

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