Broward re­count was ham­pered by too few work­ers, judges say.

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Larry Barszewski

The Broward elec­tions of­fice didn't have enough work­ers to re­count votes in the Novem­ber elec­tion, ac­cord­ing to a self­e­val­u­a­tion sent to the state.

The re­port has two parts, one signed by two judges and now­sus­pended Su­per­vi­sor of Elec­tions Brenda Snipes and the other signed only the by judges.

The ver­sion with Snipes’ sig­na­ture says staffing short­ages did not con­trib­ute to vote­count­ing de­lays. But the judges’ ver­sion says the of­fice didn’t have enough staff to run a 24-hour op­er­a­tion, which they say was nec­es­sary to meet the count­ing dead­lines.

The elec­tions of­fice “had in­suf­fi­cient staff to run more than one shift of op­er­a­tors” of its high-speed vote-count­ing ma­chines dur­ing the ma­chine re­count, wrote Judges Betsy Ben­son and Deb­o­rah Car­pen­ter-Toye in the re­port ob­tained from the Florida De­part­ment of State. The judges and Snipes com­prised the county’s Can­vass­ing Board.

The elec­tions of­fice “solved this prob­lem by fly­ing in ad­di­tional staff pro­vided by the equip­ment ven­dor, and bor­row­ing two ad­di­tional [ma­chines] from an­other lo­ca­tion in Florida,” the judges wrote.

De­spite those ef­forts, the county’s ma­chine re­count was re­jected by the state for be­ing two min­utes late.

The judges said of­fi­cials from the state Divi­sion of Elec­tions, who were present, were partly to blame. They didn’t give “ap­pro­pri­ate di­rec­tion” to up­load the re­sults to the state web­site. With the dead­line ap-

proach­ing, of­fi­cials in Tal­la­has­see no­ti­fied the elec­tions of­fice the num­bers had to be en­tered man­u­ally.

The elec­tions of­fice said it had 4,015 poll work­ers at 577 lo­ca­tions on Elec­tion Day and 68 of­fice staff. The re­port doesn’t in­clude staffing num­bers for the re­count.

At­tempts to reach Snipes and her at­tor­neys were un­suc­cess­ful Thurs­day.

The self-eval­u­a­tion and ad­den­dum cover many of is­sues that emerged pre­vi­ously dur­ing cov­er­age of the elec­tion and re­count. Among them:

■ Twenty-five bal­lots were left off the county’s ini­tial vote re­port be­cause they had mark­ings where the can­vass­ing board had to de­ter­mine “voter in­tent.” They were not brought to the board in time to be in­cluded in that re­port, the judges said, in part be­cause of se­cu­rity is­sues — “In­clud­ing a threat against a pub­lic of­fi­cial.” The elec­tions of­fice where the count was tak­ing place was be­ing swarmed out­side by pro­test­ers forc­ing of­fi­cials to de­lay the meet­ing while se­cu­rity was beefed up in the build­ing and a metal de­tec­tor set up for visi­tors to go through.

■ Con­nec­tiv­ity prob­lems be­tween early-vot­ing sites and the elec­tronic voter reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem forced 205 early vot­ers to cast pro­vi­sional bal­lots be­cause their sig­na­tures could not be ver­i­fied.

■ The 205 pro­vi­sional bal­lots were ap­proved by elec­tions of­fice staff, which did its own ver­i­fi­ca­tion of them with­out bring­ing them to the Can­vass­ing Board for its de­ter­mi­na­tion. The board re­jected 23 of the pro­vi­sional bal­lots where it said the sig­na­tures didn’t match. How­ever, the board counted all the votes be­cause it could not re­unite the bal­lots with the opened, re­jected en­velopes.

■ Seven precincts were un­able to trans­mit their vote to­tals to the elec­tions of­fice on elec­tion night be­cause of equip­ment mal­func­tions. Of­fi­cials had to bring the re­sults on elec­tronic me­dia to the re­gional of­fice, which added to the de­lay in re­port­ing re­sults on elec­tion night.

■ The elec­tions of­fice mis­placed 2,040 bal­lots dur­ing the elec­tion re­count.

■ Eight bal­lot scan­ners had to be re­placed at precincts dur­ing early vot­ing be­cause of sen­sor and jam­ming is­sues, and 20 had to be re­placed on Elec­tion Day.

In con­clu­sion, Ben­son and Car­pen­ter-Toye said: “De­spite the avail­abil­ity of the can­vass­ing board to promptly can­vass all ma­te­ri­als, the board fre­quently had no bal­lots to can­vass as the [elec­tions] staff had not pre­pared the nec­es­sary ma­te­rial.”

JOE CAVARETTA/SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SEN­TINEL

A self-eval­u­a­tion signed by now-sus­pended Su­per­vi­sor of Elec­tions Brenda Snipes says staffing short­ages did not con­trib­ute to vote-count­ing de­lays.

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