November 4, 2004

Officials in Broward County, Florida were confronted by the annoying truth that their voting machines do in deed count votes, but they count them in the negative direction. In a story broken by the Palm Beach Post, election officials sheepishly revealed today that the software used in their county and others can handle only 32,000 votes. After that, the system continues to count votes - but in reverse!
As of today, stunned Broward County Mayor Ilene Lieberman was still trying to learn why a voting system would even be designed to count backward.
The problem originally cropped up in 2002. Lieberman said that ES&S told her it had sent software upgrades to Florida Secretary of State, but the office, for unexplained reasons, kept rejecting the software.
This election, the glitch affected 97,434 ballots in Broward County alone, according to Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, a Jeb Bush appointee with ties to the White House.

The same software is used in Martin and Miami-Dade counties.
Secretary of State spokeswoman Jenny Nash said all counties had been told that such problems would indeed occur if the votes got above the 32,000 mark.
Lieberman replied adamantly, "No election employee has come to the canvassing board and made the statements that Jenny Nash said occurred."
Late Tuesday night, ES&S issued a statement changing it's tune. It now claims that it found out about the problems in 2002 and said the software upgrades would be submitted to Secretary of State Hood's office next year. The company released the following statement: "While the county bears the ultimate responsibility for programming the ballot and structuring the precincts, we regret any confusion the discrepancy in early vote totals has caused."

Omaha-based Elections Systems and Software initially refused to return any calls, but as pressure mounted late Thursday, an ES&S spokeswoman sheepishly admitted she did not know whether ES&S contacted the Secretary of State two years ago or whether the software is designed to count backwards.

Crack Palm Beach Post reporter Eliot Kleinberg who broke this story locally, found that while the problem surfaced two years ago, current Broward County Elections Supervisor Snipes claimed it was under another supervisor and a different secretary of state and hence, she could not be held accountable.

In the pre-election issue of the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, an expose on Snipes revealed, " Snipes calls herself a Democrat, but Jeb Bush and local Republican power brokers like William Scherer pull the strings."
The New Times article goes on to state: "You might remember Scherer - a co-chair for the governor's campaign and a fundraising Ranger for the president's campaign. He's the charming fellow who started yelling on live television during the 2000 recount and had to be removed from the Broward County Courthouse."
"Scherer works closely with lobbyist Jim Blosser, who is perhaps the most influential Republican power broker in South Florida," explains New Times.
Snipes a black Democrat, chose Dorsey Miller to emcee her appointment ceremony, "Miller an opportunistic and oft -investigated black Republican was tapped by Jeb {Bush} to engineer Snipes' ascension." explains New Times.
More later.

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