Box left at polling place didn’t con­tain bal­lots, of­fi­cials say

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - LOCAL - By Su­san­nah Bryan and Juan Ortega

They’re im­por­tant gray boxes seen at each polling site, con­tain­ers that are used to store peo­ple’s votes. Poll work­ers later re­move the bal­lots, and leave the boxes at polling sites for pickup.

On Thurs­day, two days af­ter Elec­tion Day, teacher Lakeisha Sorey spot­ted one of th­ese boxes at Sun­shine El­e­men­tary School in Mi­ra­mar — and wor­ried bal­lots might still be in­side. But that’s not the case, a Broward County elec­tions of­fi­cial says.

Just like other boxes, this con­tainer in ques­tion held sup­plies, not bal­lots, said Dozel Spencer, Broward’s di­rec­tor of vot­ing equip­ment cen­ter op­er­a­tions.

Speak­ing to re­porters Thurs­day night, Spencer said th­ese boxes are used to hold pro­vi­sional bal­lots. And when polls close, the bal­lots are trans­ferred to a zip­pered bag and taken to the elec­tions ware­house in Lauder­hill.

Spencer dis­played one of the boxes to show how the bal­lot-free boxes then dou­ble as a place to store an in­ven­tory of items, such as “vote here” signs, pens, en­velopes, ex­ten­sion cords or elec­tion man­u­als.

They re­main at polling sites with the elec­tion ma­chines and other equip­ment un­til they’re picked up by the Broward elec­tions of­fice. “We pick up all our sup­plies,” Spencer said. “It takes eight days to de­liver ev­ery­thing [to polling sites]. There’s no way I could pick up ev­ery­thing in two days.”

Sorey said she had seen the box about 3 p.m. Thurs­day, in the same area where vot­ing had been held, and fig­ured she wouldn’t med­dle with it. “I didn’t want to touch it,” Sorey said.

Sorey took a photo of the large gray bin with a slot on top and a pa­per af­fixed to its side that reads, “Pro­vi­sional Bal­lot Box.” All such boxes have that sign on one side, and on the other side, they read, “Sup­ply Box.”

Seek­ing help, Sorey had phoned her friend, State Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, a close con­fi­dante of gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date An­drew Gil­lum.

It con­cerned Jones, too, given that Florida is head­ing to­ward mul­ti­ple re­counts. Sev­eral races could be de­cided by nar­row mar­gins, in­clud­ing the Se­nate race be­tween Gov. Rick Scott and in­cum­bent Bill Nel­son. “I’m hop­ing some­one will at least go ver­ify and make sure there are no bal­lots in­side the box,” Jones said Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Cit­ing such con­cern, a re­porter asked Spencer, “There were never any bal­lots left at a school?”

“Cor­rect,” Spencer replied.

COUR­TESY OF LAKEISHA SOREY

Teacher Lakeisha Sorey says she found this locked bal­lot box at Sun­shine El­e­men­tary School on Thurs­day.

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