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Miami Hires a Manager for Election

Voting: Hoping to avoid repeat of problems with Democratic primary, county police director is put in charge of crisis control for November.

September 21, 2002|From Associated Press

MIAMI — The county hired a crisis manager Friday to run its general election in November to avoid a repeat of the botched Democratic gubernatorial primary race.

Mayor Alex Penelas said he hired Miami-Dade Police Department Director Carlos Alvarez in response to a report released Friday by the county inspector general that called plans to fix Miami-Dade County's election system insufficient and untested.

Alvarez has been given complete responsibility for the Nov. 5 election, including poll worker training, precinct management and deciding whether to adopt other recommendations in Inspector General Christopher Mazzella's report, Penelas said.

A message seeking comment left for Alvarez late Friday at the Police Department was not immediately returned.

It took Florida a week to determine that Bill McBride defeated former Atty. Gen. Janet Reno in the Sept. 10 primary, in part because of problems Miami-Dade and Broward counties had opening and closing polls and tallying votes. The problems have been blamed on a lack of training, a lack of familiarity with new computerized equipment and poor organization.

Mazzella's report urged the county to prepare itself for election problems by enlisting crisis managers already employed by the Police Department and the emergency management office.

Officials need to treat the election as a "crisis situation," Mazzella wrote. "Elections are like other major events. For instance, we could not imagine the county hosting the Super Bowl unless it had in place a crisis management plan."

The report said Elections Systems & Software, the company that manufactured the new machines, "bears major responsibility" for the primary election mistakes.

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