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Vote counts declared correct

DEMORRIS A. LEE
Published May 26, 2006

A state audit of Pinellas County's March 7 elections determined that the outcomes were accurate, though the report noted areas where the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office could strengthen its procedures.

"I'm extremely pleased with the audit report," Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said Thursday. "It confirms what we have been saying all along, which is we used certified ballot-counting software to count the vote and that the election results are accurate."

The outcomes of the elections in Largo, Pinellas Park and Palm Harbor became suspect after a computer glitch caused a two-hour delay in getting results. Because of community concern, Clark asked for the audit, the first of its kind of a municipal election in Florida.

"I was pleased that Clark was asking to review the elections in the first place," Largo Mayor Pat Gerard, who won her race by 172 votes, said Thursday.

At issue was whether the votes were accurately counted and handled when a computer server froze.

Vote counting stopped on election night because a technician set aside too little hard drive space on the server to handle the vote tabulation. A consultant from Sequoia Voting Systems, Pinellas' voting technology provider, passed along some computer code to the technician while he was fixing the problem.

An audit team from the state Division of Elections examined all the voting device's results, the absentee and provisional votes, as well as ballot images from randomly selected voting devices. The team also examined the installed software.

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