Saturday, July 31, 2004

Dog Who Ate Data Throws Up on Carpet 

Earlier in the week we linked to a story reporting that:
Almost all the electronic records from the first widespread use of touch-screen voting in Miami-Dade County have been lost, stoking concerns that the machines are unreliable as the presidential election draws near.

The records disappeared after two computer system crashes last year, county elections officials said, leaving no audit trail for the 2002 gubernatorial primary. A citizens group uncovered the loss this month after requesting all audit data from that election.
Now we learn (via Avedon Carol) that the Miami-Dade election officials, who earlier claimed that there was no backup system in place when the data was lost, have miraculously stumbled across a backup disc containing all the missing records:
Miami-Dade County elections officials said Friday they have found detailed electronic voting records from the 2002 gubernatorial primary that were originally believed lost in computer crashes last year.

Seth Kaplan, spokesman for the Elections Supervisor office, said the records were found on a compact disc in the office. "We are very pleased," he said.

When the loss was initially reported earlier this week, state officials had stressed that no votes were lost in the actual election. The record of the votes had been believed lost during the crashes in April and November of 2003, and county officials had said they did not have a backup system in place until December.

The lost records marked the latest in a series of embarrassing episodes involving Florida voting since the turmoil of the 2000 presidential race.

Despite the discovery of the disc, local activists expressed skepticism.

"There are now more questions than before," said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. "I certainly want the disc, I certainly wish someone would test the original disc they are now claiming they found and determine when that disc was made, where it came from, whether it's been tampered with and if anyone's opened it."

A team from the state Division of Elections was sent to Miami earlier this week to work with local officials to see what happened and whether the information was retrievable. Kaplan said officials from the machine vendor, Election Systems & Software Inc., were also in the office, though he said it was Miami-Dade officials who found the disc.

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