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Election glitch missed 103,000 votes in Florida county

Ballots caught, counted early next day

Broward County officials say the once-missing votes did not affect outcomes of races, such as the victory of GOP Gov. Jeb Bush.
Broward County officials say the once-missing votes did not affect outcomes of races, such as the victory of GOP Gov. Jeb Bush.

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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- A computer glitch in South Florida's Broward County caused 103,222 ballots not to be counted on election night, but the missing votes did not affect the outcome of any races, county officials said Thursday.

The Broward County Election Department said the software error was discovered between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Wednesday, revising voter turnout from 35 percent to 45 percent once the votes were counted.

Broward County, north of Miami, includes Fort Lauderdale and was the center of controversy over votes cast using a punch card voting system in the 2000 presidential election.

The Florida Secretary of State's office praised Broward officials saying they did an "excellent job" in finding the discrepancy in the overall vote total and correcting it.

The specter of the 2000 election -- marked by a protracted and unprecedented post-election battle in the Sunshine State -- hung over this year's midterm races.

David Host, a spokesman for the Florida secretary of state, had called the elections "an unqualified success."

Host said minor problems erupted with optical scanners at one precinct in Osceola County, one in Brevard, two in Orange and two in Duval, "but they were quickly remedied."

One 92-year-old woman in Miami even voted in her car, using a laptop computer that workers at the precinct brought out to her.

In Miami-Dade County, "a handful of voters" were forced to cast paper ballots during about three hours when all five machines at one polling place failed. A total of 80 paper ballots were cast.

Florida wasn't the only state to report election irregularities. (More)

No hanging, dimpled or pregnant chad marred the vote-counting this year in Florida, but the state experienced problems with electronic voting machines during the primary elections weeks ago, after having spent $32 million on the new equipment.

Incumbent Republican Jeb Bush (Profile) won the state's gubernatorial race by 13 percentage points.

Miami's new 17th District congressman -- Democrat state senator Kendrick B. Meek (Profile) -- ran unopposed.

After the 2000 election, many voters claimed they were barred from voting, and others claimed they had accidentally voted for the wrong candidate. Florida election boards spent weeks hand-counting paper ballots looking for indications of how the voter intended to vote and deciding whether the vote would be counted.

Eventually, Republican George W. Bush was allowed to claim Florida's 25 electoral votes, giving him a 271-267 edge over his Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore, in the Electoral College -- where 270 votes are needed to claim the nation's chief executive office. Seesaw court battles over the disputed votes in Florida lasted 35 days past Election Day, November 7.

Nationwide, Gore narrowly won the popular vote, but electoral votes choose the president. Bush is the first U.S. president in more than a century to take office without also winning the largest share of the popular vote.

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