By Scott Wyman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
May 26, 2006
When Brad Biggar of Coral Springs opened a letter addressed to him from the Broward County election office Wednesday night, he found a new voter identification card for his wife. His wife got one for their daughter, and the daughter got one intended for a Debra Bigler.
All across Coral Springs and Parkland, voters whose last names begin with the letters A or B received the ID cards of relatives, neighbors and crosstown residents rather than their own. The cause was a mailroom glitch that resulted in up to 1,000 people receiving the card for the next person alphabetically on Broward's voter registration rolls.
Elections officials caught the problem before it struck the third letter of the alphabet, but it left behind a new headache for the office.
For some, the foul-up revived bad memories of Miriam Oliphant's tumultuous tenure as elections supervisor and even the grueling 2000 presidential recount. For others, it raised fears of identity theft.
"With all the voting problems, I haven't trusted the voting system anyway," Biggar said. "Now we find we aren't getting the right voter registration cards. It makes you wonder what's next."
The four members of Arlene Boumel's family also received the wrong cards, with her husband getting the one meant for Alise Bour.
"It amazes me that nobody picked up on this error as the letters were being printed," Boumel said.
Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes must mail Broward's 1 million voters' new cards before this fall's election season because the state took over the voter rolls and assigned new ID numbers to each person. Snipes asked her office's longtime mail processor, Commercial Printers of Pompano Beach, to mail the cards over the next few weeks.
Snipes' spokeswoman, Mary Cooney, said the mail machinery was skipping somehow and inserting voter cards in the wrong envelopes. She said Commercial Printers has accepted responsibility for the problem.
About 100,000 cards have been mailed out and officials are confident the problem was limited to the 33067 and 33071 ZIP codes.
"It's very isolated," Cooney said.
Still, Coral Springs resident Robert Beeman is not happy that he received Raymond Bees' ID card and someone else got his.
"It seems like they really screwed up," Beeman said. "The card has all your information on it and now someone else out there has it."
Cooney said the new card contains less personal information than in the past, but acknowledged it still has the voter's address and birthday. She doubted if the card would be helpful in an identity theft scam, saying it cannot be used as identification.
The Elections Office is asking anyone who received the wrong card to call 954-357-7050 and report the error. New cards will be mailed out.
Scott Wyman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4511.
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