Officials: Electronic records of some Florida elections wiped out in computer crash
MIAMI – Detailed electronic records from Miami-Dade County’s first widespread use of touchscreen voting machines were lost in computer crashes last year, erasing information from the September 2002 gubernatorial primaries and deleting some records of other elections, elections officials said Tuesday.
The crashes occurred in May and November of 2003. In December, officials began backing up the data daily, to help avoid similar data wipeouts in the future, said Seth Kaplan, spokesman for the county’s elections supervisor, Constance Kaplan.
The malfunction was made public after the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, a citizen’s group, requested all data from the 2002 gubernatorial primary between Democratic candidates Janet Reno and Bill McBride.
The loss of data underscores problems with the touchscreen voting machines, the citizen’s group said. “This is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. “Of course it’s worrisome.”
The group is concerned about the machines’ effectiveness, following revelations about other problems with the system. Last month, state officials said the touchscreen systems used by 11 counties had a bug that would make a manual recount impossible.
Earlier this month, a newspaper study indicated touchscreen machines did not perform as well as those that scanned paper ballots.