With e-voting, Broward County election results were slow'but chadless

The Nov. 5 election in Broward County, Fla., went more smoothly than the Sept. 10 primary or the 2000 presidential election.

Bruce Eldridge, assistant supervisor of technical services for the county's elections office, said, 'Overall, I heard about fewer computer problems.'

The county recalibrated its voting machines after the September primary. That helped things run more smoothly, but there were a few snags, Eldridge said.

Broward County's ballots were 13 screens long, 'probably the longest in the country,' he said.

A peskier problem was an unprecedented number of absentee ballots. All 34,000 were counted by the election software as though they had originated in one precinct.

'We encouraged people to vote early, and they did,' Eldridge said.

The iVotronic touch-screen voting machines and software from Election Systems and Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb., catch errors in precinct size, said Mike Limas, the company's chief operating officer.

The software 'has a built-in trap if the system is sending 60,000 votes instead of 600,' Limas said.

So the software thought that the 34,000 votes from one precinct constituted a mistake. It flagged the votes to be rechecked and stored them uncounted. That wasn't a software glitch so much as a procedural error, Limas said.

Fortunately, the county caught the error and tallied the votes in time to meet the Nov. 7 deadline for final counts. Officials said the tallying delay did not change the outcome of any races, although it did trim Gov. Jeb Bush's victory by 13,815 votes.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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