Site Map
Voting News
Contact Us
About Us

is NOT!
associated with

In Palm Beach County it goes from missing ballots to too many ballots   (FL)

Mark Hollis    South Florida Sun-Sentinel   12 September 2008

It's no longer a missing ballots problem in Palm Beach County. Now there are too many ballots.

After a cumbersome resorting and recounting of ballots from the Aug. 26 election, investigators produced two new troubling findings Friday.

First, auditors have discovered electronic evidence that 110 ballots from voters at a Delray Beach precinct weren't included in election night results. Those votes also weren't included in totals from a recount.

Second, auditors verified that there are 139 more paper ballots on hand at elections offices than the number of ballots reported cast on election night. The combination of the findings means there could be 249 more ballots than were counted on election night - though that estimate could change before an audit is finalized this weekend.

"We are no longer short ballots, we have more ballots," said County Commissioner Mary McCarty, a member of the county's elections canvassing board.

Brad Merriman, an assistant county administrator leading the investigation, said he never expected the results to turn out this way. He also said the frenzy of election night activity may be partly to blame.

"In handling over 100,000 pieces of paper, and a lot of people handling things, there's room for some error," Merriman said, adding that auditors may never reach certainty about how many ballots were cast and counted.

"There's no way to ever be 100 percent certain," Merriman said.

However, finding an electronic memory cartridge of the 110 unread ballots adds a new scare for elections observers.

"You can't say the machines weren't part of the problem in one way or another," said McCarty.

Phil Foster, vice president of Sequoia Voting Systems, the maker of the optical-scan voting equipment, who attended a Friday press conference announcing the findings, said it's premature to blame the equipment.

"We shouldn't be jumping to conclusions that it was machine error," Foster said.

Electronic records indicate that an election official made an attempt on election night to manually enter the results from that cartridge. But for some reason, those results still weren't tabulated.

Jeff Darter, a technology manager under Supervisor of Elections Arthur Anderson, conceded that it was inexcusable for votes not to have been counted. "There was no reason for it not to get recorded, but it was not recorded on election night," Darter said.

Meanwhile, a judge in Tallahassee has ordered that the ballots be kept under a secure lockdown until further notice, said Peter Sosin, an attorney for William Abramson, a candidate in the judge's race. A hearing on whether to order a full, manual recount could come next week, he said. McCarty has said it is her preference that the judge order a manual recount of the results of the judicial race. She predicted that county officials could be ready for such a step as early as Monday.

On Monday, Merriman will present findings and recommendations to county officials to ensure there is adequate preparation before the presidential vote in the Nov. 4 general election.

Staff Writer Josh Hafenbrack contributed to this report.

Previous Page

Election Problem Log image
2004 to 2009


Accessibility Issues
Accessibility Issues

Cost Comparisons
Cost Comparisons

Flyers & Handouts

VotersUnite News Exclusives

Search by

Copyright © 2004-2010 VotersUnite!