Missing Voting Mechanism Recovered

Several days after presidential votes were tallied in what has become the hotbed of Florida’s post-election confusion, police in Palm Beach County confiscated a ballot-box mechanism from the car of a well-known local Democrat.

The mechanism, called a “Votomatic,” did not contain any ballots. It’s a device used on some types of ballot boxes to punch votes through ballot cards, which are then tallied by computers.

According to a police report filed at the Palm Beach County sheriff’s office and obtained by ABCNEWS, Irving Slosberg, 53, pulled the mechanism from his car and handed it over to police on Nov. 11 after denying to a county government employee that he had it.

When told of the incident, Palm Beach County’s supervisor of elections, Theresa LePore, declined to press charges, according to the report.

“She noted that this incident did occur during the hand count of the presidential election and LePore stated she did not wish to pursue further this matter at this time due to extenuating circumstances,” it said.

No further action was taken.

County Official Contacts Authorities

Slosberg, a 53-year-old resident of nearby Boca Raton who owns a handbag company, recently won a seat in the state Legislature amid allegations he tried to buy his election.

The officer who filed the report, Deputy Sheriff Daniel Grose, had been working a special elections detail when he was contacted by Denise Cote, director of public affairs for Palm Beach County. Cote said she believed Slosberg had an official Palm Beach County ballot box, according to the police report.

Cote told the deputy she first wanted to speak with Slosberg alone to convince him to give the machinery back, but she asked the officer to stand by. Ten minutes later, Cote returned to the officer and said Slosberg had become confrontational and denied having the mechanism.

“I asked Mr. Slosberg to return it to me, and he said no, he intended to use it,” Cote told ABCNEWS.com. She said Slosberg did not say how he wanted to use it and he declined to say how he had obtained it.

“I was told by the county’s attorney’s office that it must have been taken from a voting booth, because there was no other way that he could have obtained it,” Cote said.

When the officer asked Slosberg whether he had the item, Slosberg led the officer to his car and handed over the Votomatic, according to the police report.

Elected After a Recount

Slosberg won his new seat during a heated and extremely close election.

Just days before a Democratic runoff, which he won, his opponent, incumbent Curt Levine, filed a state ethics complaint, accusing Slosberg of trying to buy the election by giving away thousands of handbags and paying retirees phony consulting fees.

Slosberg’s defeat of Levine practically guaranteed him a term that reportedly pays nearly $27,000 a year for representing the Boca Raton district. On Nov. 7, he defeated a lesser-known write-in candidate, Robert A. Sloan III, in the general election.

In the primary election, Slosberg had barely squeaked past Levine. He reportedly had 50.5 percent of the votes to Levine’s 49.5 percent.

‘It Disappeared’

A Palm Beach Post political columnist wrote Monday that Slosberg had been “schlepping” the mechanism around the county government center “like a traveling election equipment salesman.”

“He was happy to provide a demonstration of the county’s ballot problems for anyone with a TV camera last week,” wrote columnist George Bennett.

But Slosberg was no longer toting the visual aid Saturday night, after Mary McCarty, a Palm Beach County commissioner, demanded to know how he got his hands on a piece of official county voting machinery, Bennett wrote.

“It disappeared,” Slosberg said Sunday when asked about the Votomatic.