MIAMI (CBS4) – Lida Rodriguez Taseff, the former chair of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, said she is haunted by what she and members of the watchdog group, witnessed at the close of voting in Miami-Dade during the August primary.
“I went home very concerned because this is something we fought long and hard to get,” said Rodriguez Taseff. “Back since I started doing election work over ten years ago we started looking at the issue of making sure that the number of people who signed in to vote at the end of the night, matched the number of votes in the machine. This is done before the voting machines are packed up and any of the paper ballots are removed from the premises,”
What’s she is talking about is called precinct reconciliation. Most voting experts tell CBS4 Investigates that it’s a first line defense to make sure your vote was counted and fraudulent or ghost votes were not.
How does it work? Poll workers compare the number of people who signed in to vote, with the number of votes cast in the machines.
“If the number of people who signed in to vote was more than the number of votes in the machine then you have to worry that you disenfranchised people and you need to figure out why and you need to fix it,” Rodriguez Taseff told CBS4 Chief Investigator Michele Gillen.
But at the close of polls in the August 14th primary, Rodriguez Taseff told Gillen, “They didn’t do it on election night. It wasn’t the policy. It wasn’t the practice.”
We investigated whether the practice officially has been scrapped in Miami Dade.
According to a county document the answer is yes. The explanation why?
“Polling place procedures were modified in advance of the August 14,2012 primary election to ease the burden on election board poll workers during closing procedures.”
CBS4 Investigates asked Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley about the change.
“We collect our vote counts at the precincts, but the actual reconciliation is done through our automation process and that is done back at headquarters.”
And while her memo implies this is a recent change – in person she told us.
“We have been doing that process now for at least two years,” said Townsley.
That’s news to Rodriguez Taseff who at the end of the day, says not reconciling in the field, is a decision that doesn’t serve the voting public.
“The people in the polling place have the opportunity on election night before anything is shut down… they have the ability to look around, to see if you’re missing ballots are there any ballots strewn around? Are they under some coffee table? Are they sitting somewhere no one even imagined? Are they in the garbage can?” explained Rodriguez Taseff.