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Computer glitch in Tallahassee could delay distribution of some absentee ballots

TALLAHASSEE — If you changed your mailing address recently and just requested an absentee ballot, there's a small chance you might not get it quickly because of a glitch in the state's voter database.

The problem cropped up Monday when the state's elections division performed scheduled maintenance and found out that somehow old mailing addresses of voters had migrated into the new system.

It isn't a huge problem for county election supervisors right now, some say, because they're able to double-check their old records to make sure ballots are being sent to the right addresses.

"We've had a lot of issues this week," said Deborah Clark, Pinellas County elections supervisor, sounding frustrated with the glitches.

She said her office has identified 57 problematic addresses, of which 24 would have gone to the wrong place had they not caught the error in time. She said her office is double-checking addresses and sending out ballots as quickly as possible.

"We're hoping it's a minimal number," she said. "As far as we're concerned, everything is not okay."

Though many officials thought the statewide database was down, state elections spokeswoman Jennifer Krell Davis said the system was just sluggish, and that it has been fixed. She said a minuscule number of voter addresses were affected during the routine maintenance and that the state is auditing the system now to make sure the information is correct.

The uncertainty bothered elections supervisors in midsize counties like Leon's Ion Sancho, who said any delay is unacceptable this close to the Nov. 2 elections.

"We're not sending out absentee ballots right now. The whole system has come to a halt," he said. "Basically, we were told that everything done yesterday was wrong."

In Palm Beach County, election supervisor Susan Bucher said her team reviewed the 600 ballots it sent out since Monday and determined that four went to the wrong location. So they're sending new ballots.

"Obviously it's delaying us," she said. "And we're inundated with requests and we want to turn this around quickly."

Marc Caputo can be reached at mcaputo@MiamiHerald.com.

Computer glitch in Tallahassee could delay distribution of some absentee ballots 10/13/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:21pm]
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