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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 00:02 GMT 01:02 UK
Chads return to haunt Florida
Volunteers manually recount votes in the Florida, 2000
The incident has echoes of the 2000 Florida recount
Voting in Democratic Party primary elections in the American state of Florida has been delayed by technical problems.

In some polling stations new electronic touch-screen machines had to be replaced with the old punch-card systems, which were the source of much controversy in the 2000 presidential election.


I frankly wonder what in the hell they've been doing... They've had two years to get ready for this election

Florida Secretary of State Jim Smith

Complications with vote-counting in the state of Florida held up the final election result for more than a month.

Governor Jeb Bush said voting had been extended by two hours and would now continue until 1800 local time (2300 GMT).

One contender, former US attorney general Janet Reno, had threatened to file a law suit if voting was not extended.

Machine failure

Florida is one of 10 US states - as well as the District of Columbia, seat of the capital - holding primaries on Tuesday.

Many new machines failed to connect. Others rejected voters' identification cards.

"Apparently many election workers did not know how to operate the machines," said Gisela Salas, an election superviser.

Democrats are picking a candidate for November's state governor election. The winner will face the Republican governor, Jeb Bush, in November's election.

The contenders are Janet Reno, local lawyer Bill McBride, and a state senator, Daryl Jones.

Contendor Janet Reno
Janet Reno: trying to drive off a last-minute threat
Ms Reno had been a clear favourite throughout the campaign, but in the past few days Bill McBride has surged in the polls on the back of a string of endorsements.

He is seen as the strongest threat to Jeb Bush, and is now the target of Republican attack in television adverts.

No Spanish

Voting hours had to be extended after failures in the counties of Miami-Dade and Broward - which, along with Palm Beach, were at the heart of the recount fiasco in 2000.

In Miami-Dade, one voter said attendants at polling stations had been unable to speak Spanish and could not assist older members of the area's large Cuban community to vote.

Florida spent $32m setting up the new computerised voting system, which is in use in over half of the state's polling states.

Lack of preparation

Florida Secretary of State Jim Smith, in charge of the elections, reportedly blamed lack of preparation for equipment failures.

"Sixty-five of our counties did a great job," he said. "We're here because two counties didn't get the job done.

"I frankly wonder what in the hell they've been doing in those counties. They've had two years to get ready for this election," he said.

See also:

09 Dec 00 | Americas
17 Jul 01 | Americas
05 Jun 01 | Americas
21 Mar 01 | Americas
08 Jan 01 | Americas
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