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Miami Herald, The (FL)

That provoked an indignant response from Jane Carroll, Broward's election supervisor.

Nothing was missing, Carroll said. Rather, there were 14 boxes of ballots from the Pembroke Pines area that took longer to relay because of heavy turnout. ``They're big precincts,'' she said.

There was one ballot box that was mistakenly left sitting at a Pompano Beach polling place, she said, but it had been fetched and was being delivered.

``We have no missing ballots,'' she said. ``Tom Brokaw isn't here. I am here, looking at the ballots. We have no ballots missing.''

It was not the only election hangup in Broward.

Officials with both the Republican and Democratic parties reported scores - perhaps thousands - of people turned away from the polls.

Mitch Ceasar, chairman of the Broward Democratic Party, said his people received calls all day from voters who were turned away, and some precincts ran out of ballots and were unable to obtain more.

``Thousands may have been disenfranchised in Broward County today,'' Ceasar said. ``To be denied is a very, very poor way to deal with people who are exercising their patriotic right,'' he said.

Carroll said she had checked out every single complaint about voters not being allowed to vote and had found that there was an explanation for every problem.

``I think everybody is a little paranoid,'' Carroll said.

Many voters didn't register in time to meet the state-mandated deadline for this election, while others moved from another county and forgot to change their voter registration, Carroll said.

Another problem is voters who get out of jury duty by saying they no longer live in Broward County. They are automatically deleted from the voter rolls. Those people then show up to vote, Carroll said.

``Large numbers of people are coming to vote as Republicans - they've voted Republican at their polling place for many years - but their name is not on the list when they get there,'' said Ferris Stephens, a volunteer with ballot security for Broward's Republican headquarters.

Fran Costa, 48, of Pembroke Pines, said she finally gave up after battling poll workers for nearly an hour.

Eventually, she said, officials told her she had voted by absentee ballot - which she insists never occurred.

``This is terrible; this is just awful,'' said Costa. ``It's definitely not fair to be denied your rights as an American citizen - to want to vote, and be told you can't vote.''

Herald staff writer Caroline Keough contributed to this story.

Illustration:color photo: Vicky Rotunno talks on her cellphone while waiting
in line to vote (a); photo: Voters in line at Walter C. Young Middle School

MARSHA HALPER / HERALD STAFF LONG LINES: At 9 a.m. Tuesday, voters at Walter C. Young Middle School in Pembroke Pines faced at least an hour's wait to get through the doors.
MARSHA HALPER / HERALD STAFF WAITING TO VOTE: Vicky Rotunno of Pembroke Pines talks on her cellphone Tuesday while standing in line at Walter C. Young Middle School. Problems reported included a ballot shortage and voters not being on the list.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Miami Herald

The Florida Disaster

AnitraWeb: Election 2000