Fla. county finds missing election records

July 31, 2004|By Tania Valdemoro | Tania Valdemoro,SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

MIAMI - Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections Constance Kaplan told county commissioners yesterday that her department has found electronic voting records from the 2002 gubernatorial primary between Democrats Janet Reno and Bill McBride that had been considered lost to computer crashes.

"This morning, my secretary found within some files in a conference room near my office a CD that had the audit data," Kaplan said.

The revelation came during an afternoon workshop called by Commission Chairwoman Barbara Carey-Shuler, who wanted to get to the bottom of "what was going on in the Elections Department."

Carey-Shuler called the meeting after The New York Times reported Wednesday that the electronic records - ballot images and event logs from an election in which voters used touch-screen machines for the first time - had been destroyed.

After the report, county elections officials said the county was still trying to figure out how the data were lost from its computer system and if it existed elsewhere.

But yesterday, Kaplan assured the commissioners that her department always had other records of the results.

Kaplan promised that backup safeguards would keep data safe in upcoming elections.

Voter advocates said they are glad voting records have been found and plan to study them.

"I believe in Christmas again but you have got wonder how Santa Claus came upon these ballots," said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. "Saying they found this data now is akin to saying they found a trunk load of paper ballots," she said.

But Rodriguez-Taseff and other critics of the machines fear the newly found data has been tampered. They want a third party to verify the authenticity of the data.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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