Florida Voters Already Having Problems

Computer problems reported at some early voting sites (South Florida Sun-Sentinel AP)

Problems were being reported at nine of 14 early voting sites in Broward County on Monday morning. Gisela Salas, of the Broward Elections Office, said workers were having problems with a live database connection that is used to verify that a voter is properly registered. The sites, Salas said, that were unaffected were at satellite offices in Deerfield Beach, Hollywood, Lauderhill, Pembroke Pines and Plantation. All the branch offices were reported having problems with the database connection. Many of the sites had voters lined up to cast their ballots. Voters at several sites said poll workers told them the problems started 20 minutes to 30 minutes after the early polling stations opened at 8:30 a.m. The stations close at 6 p.m.

Unbelievable. It’s amazing these folks can’t get their act together after four years, with a “practice” election in 2002–not to mention various primaries and such–to work the kinks out. Of course, one indication of the problem is rather apparent:

County elections supervisor Theresa LePore did not immediately return a call for comment.

What exactly does it take to get fired as elections supervisor, anyway?

Early voting also gets under way Monday in Texas, Colorado and Arkansas. Other key states this year have already begun in-person voting, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. Balloting by mail is under way in Oregon, the only state in the nation that has done away with polling booths altogether.

A novel solution. I’m no fan of early voting, but it shouldn’t be that difficult to pull off.

Hat tip: Stephen Green.

Update (1406): Problems Crop Up in Fla. Early Voting (YahooNews – AP)

A steady flow turned out Monday morning at more than a dozen sites in Palm Beach County. Patrick Flanagan, who went to the county’s election headquarters to cast his ballot, said he voted early because he wanted to avoid the long lines expected on Election Day. He said he’s voted on the touch-screen machines once before, and both times have gone “very smoothly.”
“I’m a computer-phobe, and it seemed easy enough to me,” said Flanagan, who added that he had no concerns about his vote being counted. Steve Perez, 44, said he went early to cast a “protest vote” for Ralph Nader. “What’s important is that you vote. I didn’t want to get in all the hoopla with all the turnout in Election Day,” said Perez, a substitute teacher.

So how hard could it be if a computer phobic, Nader votin’, career substitute teacher can do it?

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. 42nd SSD says:

    I hate to belabor the obvious, but there are definitely ways to have electronic voting machines that are safe, reliable, and don’t rely on things such as satellite connections. Why can’t they do this?

    The computer industry as a whole has a problem with `feeping creaturitis’. Instead of trying to find the simplest possible solution that does the job, they routinely come up with some of the most mind-boggling complex ways to get there. I seriously think there’s somebody out there right now trying to figure out how to make toasters that rely on Internet access. (Probably have it read a barcode on the toasted item that tells it the specific type of item, then it looks the code up in an Internet-accessible database to determine the optimal temperature & time to reach the user’s light/dark setting. If it can’t read the barcode or access the database, it either burns the item up or refuses to toast it.)

    It never would’ve occurred to me to make a voting machine which relies on a satellite network. Hats off to whoever came up with that idea. Brilliant! Genius!

  2. sgtfluffy says:

    Do they really need a 2 week head start to vote? And 2nd, did you really expect there would’nt be any voting problems?

  3. Rick says:

    I live in Broward County and I wanted to point out a couple of issues about your post.

    The first is that normally on election day the polls have printouts of the voters who are registered in their precinct. These printouts have images of the voters signatures. The number of early voting stations is significantly fewer than the number of election day polling stations. So it appears that they are using a new system to check registration since they cannot have printouts for all registered voters at all locations (Broward pop 1.7 million). I am sure they will get it working by tomorrow and it will not be a problem on election day, since they use paper printouts.

    Second Point – Teresa LaPore is the Supervisor of Elections in Palm Beach County not Broward County.

    I have used the new machines several times and they work well. They are easier to use than the old punch cards.

  4. Anjin-San says:

    So you are suprised that voting issues in FL remain a mess under Jeb Bush & President Bush?

    Ok, if you say so….

  5. dw says:

    James, could you explain (here or elsewhere) your problem with early voting? Out here in the Northwest we’ve had vote-by-mail (in Oregon) and early voting for a few years, and other than the exceedingly long time it takes to count 500,000 absentee ballots, it’s worked pretty well.

    King County is expecting 58% of votes to be cast absentee, so many that they’re having trouble getting ballots out in time. That is another problem — getting the ballots out to the people. The military ballots only went out after the Libertarian, Green, and Nader suits were ruled on, so they may be a little behind. OTOH, in Washington it’s “postmarked by election date” so the ballots can trickle in from overseas for a month.

  6. Attila Girl says:

    Let’s just hope that we aren’t counting on Washington to determine who the President is.

    My problem with mail-only voting is the obvious one: you’re counting on the post office to deliver your vote. Not good.

  7. LJD says:

    Yes, the fact that voting is all F’ed up in Florida is completely attributable to G.W. and the Republican party… Along with Florida’s hurricane season. Gimme a break.

    When is some one going to stick their neck out any say that if you’re too stupid to check the box, perhaps you ought to stay home on election day.

    Or perhaps, we should have monitors to supervise the process, ensuring that what the voter “meant” is properly recorded. I can see it now.

    Democrat volunteer: “That’s right Mrs. Liebowitz, it’s K-E-R-R…..”

  8. dw says:

    Gee, Atilla Girl, are you always such a East Coast Biased moron?

    Oregon, one of those swing states, is now almost entirely vote-by-mail. They’ve been entirely VBM since 1998. Of course, the onus is on the voter to deliver the ballot to the election board by 8pm election night, where in Washington it has to be postmarked on election day. Of course, you’d never live out here because you hate the Postal Service, so what does it matter to you?

    We also used to have a blanket primary — vote for whomever you want — but the SCOTUS struck that down and pissed off everyone in this state.