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Four Days Into Early Voting, Problems Arise (No One Say Butterfly)

It's been four days. Just four days of early voting. But our New Times freelance photographer, Ian Witlen, says at least one voting station in Broward County is already having troubles.

It went down like this. He got to the Northwest Regional Library at 7:30 yesterday morning to get his vote on when problems sprang up. He couldn't get the machine to work right. (Yes: After some 300 years of this democracy shit, we still can't seem to get it right.) He put the ballot into the Scantron-esque machine so it would tally his vote, but again, it was rejected.

So, Witlen, a dutiful member of the democratic process, tried again. Same problem. He got the attention of a nearby attendant, a 40-something man who had ear buds in. Witlen said he told him about the problems, but the man all but ignored the problem.

"Was my vote counted?" a frantic Witlen asked.

"No idea," hapless attendant said.

This continued six more times until, finally, Witlen's vote was counted, and he scored one for America.

But here was the big problem: This same issue bedeviled at least two other voting machines, and several other voters also couldn't get them to work, Witlen said. The other voters were older -- this was, after all, 7:30 in the morning -- and they weren't aware their votes may not have been counted. "No one there seemed to know how to deal with it," Witlen said. "This was a very disconcerting issue. And they've had four years to prepare for this? It's not like they haven't had enough time to figure out if their machines are working."

Why does this always happen to South Florida? we asked Mary Cooney, spokesperson for the Broward County Supervisor of Elections. Cooney was a tad harried and said she didn't have lots of time to deal with us.

"This is not something that we would consider a problem," she said. Cooney explained that the machine had worked properly, telling the voter there had been an issue. At that point, it's up to the voter to figure out the mess.

She said there's something that's called the "emergency bin" at the bottom of the booth. Flummoxed voters can slide their ballots in there if emergencies persist.

Beyond that, she didn't know what else to say.

"This happens at every site on occasion," she said. "And that other people were having the same problem, that's not a cause for concern."

In that case, we'd hate to know what would concern Cooney.




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