LePore Brushes Off Voting Machine Flaws

A recent local election in Palm Beach County, Fla., revealed that all is not well with the state's voting equipment after new machines failed to record a significant number of votes cast.

Palm Beach County is infamous for the hanging, dimpled and pregnant chads that set off the hotly disputed 2000 presidential election.

The butterfly ballot and its designer, Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore, became the butt of vicious attacks as well as late-night jokes.

"I think that there's a certain segment of the population that still holds me responsible for November 2000," LePore, then a Democrat, but now an independent, said.

To make sure such a nightmare scenario would never happen again, the county commission ponied up $14 million to buy nearly 4,000 "top of the line" touch screen voting systems, but those expensive gadgets failed to record 78 out of 2,600 votes cast, a full .03 percent.

LePore, who now crisscrosses the county seven days a week to demonstrate to voters how the new machines work, was again summoned by the commission to explain what happened. This time she stood by the new system.

"We know the machines worked. It's touch screen not touch paper," she said with a laugh.

But county commissioners are not laughing. They instead complained to LePore that she gave them only half an hour to address their concerns.

"When you came to ask for dollars for the machine ... it wasn't done in a 30-minute timetable. It wasn't a rush job. We had much discussion. I would like to have more discussion on this," said Burt Aaronson, the Palm Beach County commissioner.

LePore was unmoved by the complaints. She made it clear that she answers to voters and not the commission.

Palm Beach County's new voting machines face their next test in September and county commissioners say they hope all the kinks are worked out by then so they don't become political punching bags again.