Florida will analyze polling site IT

Florida election officials are reviewing how their new systems performed during the recent election and whether the systems exacerbated the problems that arose.

'I don't know yet the exact incidence of equipment failure,' said Bruce Eldridge, assistant supervisor of technical services for the Broward County Elections Office. 'Once our tech teams have been out to the precincts to evaluate the failures, I'll have an answer.'

In a scenario reminiscent of the November 2000 elections, confusion and equipment malfunctions in the Sept. 10 primary prompted Gov. Jeb Bush to keep polling places open two hours beyond their regularly scheduled closing times.

Some of the polling places didn't get word in time and shut down their voting machines at 7 p.m. Poll workers who tried to restart the new electronic machines after closing them down discovered that once the machines had been shut down for the day, they couldn't be restarted. Voters were turned away.

The state spent $100 million on new voting equipment and training over the past two years.
But Eldridge said he did not see the delays as purely a result of voting systems gone awry. 'Elections are a people-oriented process,' he said. 'I think the technology failed us in several instances, but the major problems were human factors.'

Part of the problem was that some poll workers did not show up, Eldridge said.

'You know how the stock market has what they call a 'triple witching hour,' where many events happen at once? Well, that's what happened this year in Florida,' he said.

Sept. 10 was the first statewide use of new election rules and procedures, new equipment and new precincts. 'We were really being stretched,' he said.

Broward County used iVotronic touch-screen voting machines from Election Systems and Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb.

The company will do a 'thorough analysis of all reported issues' regarding the Florida elections, said ES&S chief operating officer Michael P. Limas in a Sept. 12 posting on the company's Web site, at www.essvote.com

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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