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Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel

Minority, senior votes are most rejected

by Stacey Singer, John Maines and Scot Wyman
Dec 1, 2000

From Homestead to Riviera Beach, a disproportionate number of rejected presidential votes in South Florida came from African-American and Caribbean neighborhoods, an analysis of election data shows.


"When I tried to punch the third hole, it wouldn't go through," he said...

Election experts said Blake's problem was most likely not fraud or organized deception, but possibly a mundane failure to clean chad, little bits of punch card paper, out of voting machine catch drawers.

Chad can pile up enough to block a vote from registering, said Douglas W. Jones, a computer science professor and chair of the Iowa Board of Examiners for Voting Machines and Electronic Voting Systems. Like an ash tray, the drawer must be emptied quite often, he said.

"If I were the judge in this case, I'd be asking what procedures were used for cleaning and preparing the machines prior to the election to make sure they was no accumulation of crud," he said.

Elections officials interviewed had differing policies on cleaning chad.

David Beirne, an aid to Broward County Elections Supervisor Jane Carroll, said the voting machines are not cleaned out of chad during Election Day, but are only cleaned before each election season. But Beirne said each machine should be able to handle about 50,000 punches, he said.

Varnette Weems, a poll clerk for precincts 263 and 266 in Miami, said she tried to shake out the chad every few hours, although she did have one machine become clogged beyond repair.

"It might have happened once or twice because some booths do get used more than others," she said.

In precinct 263, ... 98 percent of all presidential votes counted were cast for Gore. Just over 10.4 percent of votes cast were disqualified, and 3.5 percent of all voters showed no vote for president although other races registered.

Yivette McCleod, a safety engineer for Metro-Dade, had trouble making her pin go through in precinct 263 by 8:30 a.m.

"You couldn't get it to go in. I forced it in. It took me four tries to get it," she said. When McCleod returned home later that day, she told her neighbors. Her friend Margie Atkins had the same problem. So did her father and her twin brother.


Stacey Singer and Scott Wyman can be reached at ssinger@sun-sentinel.com and swyman@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4511.

Staff Writers Merle Augustin, Fred Schulte, Thomas Monnay and Ellis Berger contributed to this report.