Few glitches reported in early Fla. voting
Voters began casting ballots Monday in Florida, encountering long lines at the polls and a few ballot box glitches four years after the 2000 presidential election fiasco.
The problems in Florida included a brief computer system crash in one county and voter complaints of incomplete paper ballots. But there were no early reports of problems with the ATM-like touch-screen voting machines introduced since the troubled 2000 election.
"A lot of people who were waiting just left. I'll try again tomorrow," he said. "It was a little frustrating after what happened in 2000."
Critics say the extended voting period increases opportunities for fraud. And some groups urged voters to ask for paper absentee ballots because of concerns about the touch-screen machines and the possibility of recounts. Voters can choose either method through Nov. 1.
State Rep. Shelley Vana said the absentee ballot she requested at a Palm Beach County site was missing one of its two pages, including proposed state constitutional amendments. She said election workers were indifferent when she pointed out the oversight.
"This is not a good start. If there are incomplete ballots out there, I can't imagine I would be the only one getting it," she said.
Palm Beach County elections supervisor Theresa LePore did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Several of Broward County's 14 polling places had trouble linking their computers to a supervisor's office to confirm voter eligibility, said Jenny Nash, a spokeswoman at the Secretary of State Glenda Hood's office. Workers used paper lists and called the supervisor's office to verify eligibility, Nash said.
In Hillsborough County, computer networking problems caused delays of up to two hours. Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson said a malfunctioning router kept computers from automatically verifying voter registration and clerks had to call a central office to determine each voter's eligibility. The problems were eventually fixed, his office said.
The touch-screen voting machines got a favorable review from Robin Punches, who used one of them for the first time in Palm Beach County.
"It tells you exactly what to do. It's idiot-proof," she said.
"Nobody knows which button to push next," she said of the ATM-style voting machines. "They're just staring at the screens."
In Tallahassee, the Rev. Jesse Jackson led a rally at Florida A&M University, urging students to "vote early and get the kinks out of the system." In Miami-Dade County, the Rev. Al Sharpton and former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno led a rally where about 150 people carried signs declaring: "Early Voting Counts" and "Every Vote Matters."
During early voting in Texas, President Bush got at least two votes in Houston — from his parents.
"We love voting for our son," former first lady Barbara Bush said after casting her electronic ballot at a community center.