updated 7/30/2004 3:21:03 PM ET 2004-07-30T19:21:03

Miami-Dade County elections officials said Friday that they have found detailed electronic voting records from the 2002 gubernatorial primary that were originally believed lost in computer crashes last year.

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Seth Kaplan, spokesman for the Elections Supervisor office, said the records were found on a compact disc in the office. “We are very pleased,” he said.

When the loss was initially reported earlier this week, state officials had stressed that no votes were lost in the actual election. The record of the votes had been believed lost during the crashes in April and November of 2003, and county officials had said they did not have a backup system in place until December.

The lost records marked the latest in a series of embarrassing episodes involving Florida voting since the turmoil of the 2000 presidential race.

Despite the discovery of the disc, local activists expressed skepticism.

“There are now more questions than before,” said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. “I certainly want the disc, I certainly wish someone would test the original disc they are now claiming they found and determine when that disc was made, where it came from, whether it’s been tampered with and if anyone’s opened it.”

A team from the state Division of Elections was sent to Miami earlier this week to work with local officials to see what happened and whether the information was retrievable. Seth Kaplan said officials from the machine vendor, Election Systems & Software Inc., were also in the office, though he said it was Miami-Dade officials who found the disc.

Seth Kaplan said the backup disc was likely lost due to transition in the office within the past year. A new elections supervisor took over in July 2003.

Gov. Jeb Bush is “pleased they were able to retrieve the data,” spokesman Jacob DiPietre said.

Though election reform groups want random testing of both touchscreen and optical scan machines during the state’s Aug. 31 primary, state officials say the machines already get rigorous testing.

“Touchscreen systems have worked successfully in hundreds of elections since 2002 and we expect them to do the same in the upcoming election,” said Alia Faraj, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Glenda Hood, who oversees the state’s elections.

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