MEDLEY, Fla. – A technician's error caused a miscalculation in the results of a town council race in this Miami-Dade County community, prompting bad memories of the disputed 2000 presidential vote.
Medley's new touchscreen voting and absentee ballot reading machines worked without a hitch Tuesday, but a technician made a mistake while programming the software that added up the absentee ballots, accidentally changing the order of the candidates' names.
When those results were combined with the touch-screen votes, the problem was compounded, town officials said.
The challengers for two town council positions were originally declared winners, but officials later announced that the two incumbents had won instead.
"It's unfortunate that we had this minor error in a simple program," County Elections Supervisor David Leahy said. "But I still have full confidence in our new systems."
The four-member council — including winning incumbents Carlos Benedetto and Mary Tanner — called an emergency meeting to announce the verified results.
The new high-tech machines replaced the punch-card ballot system that were banned by the state Legislature after the election fiasco in 2000 prompted court action and recounts.
By elections this fall, the county will have 7,200 touchscreen machines, costing $3,000 each. Updated tallying software will be used in those elections, officials said.
Zuleika Luna, a candidate eventually ruled a loser Tuesday, said the new high-tech system can cast as much doubt over election results as the old system.
"A lot of people are just not trusting the electronic device they're using," Luna said. "We don't think it's reliable. It shows that human error is still possible."
Another town in the county — Bay Harbor Islands — used the new machines to elect a town council member Tuesday without a glitch.