In what staff says is a “common occurrence,” the Broward Supervisor of Elections' office found 963 misplaced ballots five days after the election.
“They weren’t lost. They were in our possession,” Mary Cooney, public services director, told HuffPost Miami. “They were just in a area where they weren’t supposed to be. They were creatively put somewhere else.”
Cooney said that there is a protocol for storage of completed ballots, and in this case the ballots were placed in another location. After elections, staff always does a sweep of the property to make sure any misplaced ballots are found.
On Sunday, the 963 ballots were found and added to the final vote. Staff alerted the Canvassing Board to the issue on Monday.
“This is a common occurrence, we were going to do a diligent search on Sunday to make sure that all the ballots had been accounted for, and we did,” Cooney said.
The Sun Sentinel reports that of the ballots found, 798 were cast on Election Day and 165 were absentee ballots.
"Everybody who's been around for any period of time knows that managing paper is a chore, and you don't count it overnight,'' Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes told the Sun Sentinel. "What we do, and we've found it beneficial, is to comb the entire plant looking for something that may have been put in the wrong place. It happens. And when we did that, that's when we identified [the additional] votes.''
Florida made headlines with election problems yet again this month. In Miami-Dade early voting lines stretched for as along as eight or nine hours and in-person absentee balloting was temporarily shut down on Sunday, prompting a crowd of frustrated voters to turn angry.
And on Election Day, South Floridians waited for hours again to cast their vote. Some were in line well after midnight, even though President Barack Obama’s reelection was announced hours earlier.
A push to crowd the ballot with amendments printed in full meant that even two days after the election, many Florida counties were still counting pages and pages of absentee ballots.
The problem seemed also compounded by the GOP-led Florida legislature having reduced early voting days from 14 to eight. Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman said that the early voting practices in Florida were "inexcusable" and likened the process to what one would "expect in a third-world country."
"I know it's a big operation. But you'd think there'd be an organizational system, a better one,'' local Democratic Party Chairman Mitch Ceasar told the Sun Sentinel.