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From the
Miami Herald

Vote system test results perfect, with a few bumps

Miami-Dade's election equipment test produced a perfect vote count, but a computer program froze and a few managerial problems were revealed.

Aug 15, 2004

Miami-Dade County election officials wrapped up their extensive, somewhat chaotic test of the electronic voting system at 2:30 a.m. Saturday, announcing they had perfect results but ran into some unexpected problems along the way.

A computer program designed to detect fraud froze up some results from the mock election because more ballots were cast than there were active registered voters in the precincts. It took at least an hour for election officials and representatives of the machines' manufacturer, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), to override the program.

''ES&S is aware that the county was a little miffed at how complicated this all was,'' said Douglas Jones, a University of Iowa computer science professor and consultant for the county.

He emphasized that this was not a glitch, merely an unanticipated result of the most extensive test of the iVotronic voting machines in the county to date.

The test also went far beyond those conducted by Broward and Palm Beach counties. The public was invited to participate, and more than 4,016 ballots were cast on 212 machines.

While observers were largely pleased with the iVotronic's performance, some were concerned about how efficiently election officials managed the event.

County Commissioner Katy Sorenson, who stayed at department headquarters in Doral until after midnight, said the test overall was a success but that it did reveal some management problems.


Election officials said they made a collective decision not to play it safe and conduct a more limited test, because they wanted to replicate the unpredictability of a real election as best they could.


Both the inspector general and the Department of Audit and Management Services observed the testing on Friday and plan to analyze data collected from 34 machines.

''Audit management and the inspector general have done a yeoman's job trying to test the process,'' said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition.

Taseff's group has repeatedly clashed with the Elections Department, saying it needed to do more to ensure the machines accurately count votes.

''In a real healthy way, they have had to address the community concerns,'' she said. ``They were forced to do it, and they're doing it.''

© 2004 Herald.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.