Thursday, July 29, 2004

Florida Again Faces Disputes Over Elections
Recounts, Missing Records Debated

By Manuel Roig-Franzia
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 29, 2004; Page A03

MIAMI, July 28 -- Anything sound familiar here?

Voting rights lawyers are in Tallahassee, one of the epicenters of the 2000 presidential election convulsions, arguing about recounts. Florida civil rights advocates are seething about restoring the voting rights of felons. And, in Miami, elections officials now find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to explain why they've lost much of their audit records from the last big statewide election.

"We are no safer than we were in 2000," said Lida Rodriguez-Tasseff, chairman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, a voting-rights group. "We may have even bigger problems that we don't even know about."

Rodriguez-Tasseff's organization unearthed the latest in an increasingly lengthy string of embarrassments for the Florida elections system when it filed a public-records request this month with the Miami-Dade County elections office asking for the audits of votes in the 2002 governor's election. The records were supposed to have been collected by the county's new $25 million electronic voting network. The answer the group received has made voter advocates queasy about how the system will perform in the November presidential election: The records were gone.

The group was told that two computer crashes -- the first in May last year and the second in November -- erased the records of the 2002 primary and general elections. The group's request, first reported in the New York Times, also revealed that the lack of a backup system meant that the records could not be recovered.

Full article at: