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Criticism Mounts as Florida’s Voting Process Shames and Embarrasses Again

| November 11, 2012

It’s easier in Iraq. (Phillip Pessar)

With Florida going into Thursday as the only state in the union that hadn’t determined which presidential candidate won, criticism of the voting system again began to mount and calls arose for a new look at voting procedures.

The state’s Democratic Party chairman blamed Gov. Rick Scott’s administration and said moves to curtail early voting were part of what caused delays at the polls on Election Day.

Most of the state experienced problem-free voting. But in Miami-Dade County, many voters remained in line long after the race was called, with some voters reportedly waiting for more than six hours to cast a ballot on Election Day. The delay was despite the fact that half the state’s voters had already voted before Tuesday.

“It is appalling that two days after the election, Florida was not able to report our presidential election results,” Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith said in a statement late Thursday. “This embarrassment lays at the feet of Gov. Rick Scott, who made a decision to cut early voting in half and continually refused to extend early voting hours in light of the record turnout.”

Technically, the Republican-controlled Legislature shortened the early voting period, though Scott signed the bill.

Al Gore, who lost the presidency in 2000 after similar voting confusion in Florida, also said problems in Florida and other states were the result of “governors and state legislatures that have intentionally tried to prevent people from voting.”

Gore said on Current TV, the cable network he founded, that long waits in Florida were “un-American.”

It’s not clear yet what caused the problem in Miami-Dade County. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez asked fellow commissioners to form a group to review precinct-by-precinct what happened with an eye toward making recommendations about changes.

Gimenez said he would ask county Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley for a report on what happened and press Scott and the Legislature to extend early voting days and increase the number of voting sites. Gimenez told The Miami Herald he wants double or triple the number of early voting sites in the next presidential election.

The Herald quoted Miami-Dade Commissioner Javier Souto as saying that overall, the system did work.

“The system got a little bit, uh, difficult at times, but it was about the people, too,” Souto said. “I think there’s always ways to improve on the mechanics of the thing.”

Scott has already asked Secretary of State Ken Detzner to make recommendations for what might be done better, Detzner said Thursday.

“I think every year since 2000 we have improved on the process,” Detzner said. “We learned something on Tuesday, and we learned something on early voting. The governor has asked the Department of State and myself to come and make some recommendations to him, which we’re going to do to solve some of the issues with regard to the enthusiasm for early voting.

“It’s an administrative issue,” Detzner continued. “I think we can address it and have it fixed for the next time and I think that’s what people want and we’re going to fix it.”

Part of the issue is that turnout was high. Detzner noted that in Miami-Dade County nearly 30,000 absentee ballots arrived on Monday, with a similar number again on Tuesday.

“And those ballots have to be opened, signatures have to be validated and so it takes a little bit of time to count those votes, but most importantly, we’re counting them accurately and that takes a little extra time and the turnout being so big, just took a little extra time,” Detzner said.

There were also reports of very long lines in a couple of southwest Florida counties.

Elections supervisors always say they hope for blow-out elections because many of the problems with the system are there all the time but only get revealed in close contests.

Florida had that on Tuesday, with the tally for President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney nearly even as most counties finished their regular vote counts. The state’s final outcome was largely moot because the election was decided in other states, with Obama winning without Florida’s help.

Other critics of the process on Tuesday pointed to the state’s long ballot. Voters had to wade through 11 constitutional amendments, several of which were difficult reading. Officials don’t keep tabs on the average time it takes voters to fill out their ballots, but several observers noted the process likely took longer this week – slowing things down – because of the long list of amendments. Most of the amendments failed.

–David Royse, News Service of Florida

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12 Responses for “Criticism Mounts as Florida’s Voting Process Shames and Embarrasses Again”

  1. Angela Smith says:

    Once again, Florida is the butt of jokes across the country; and as if to drive home the point, the GOP has yet to rein in that bloviating gasbag West, who is acting like the last kid picked for dodgeball.

  2. Jackie says:


  3. Clint says:

    Florida….The other Country !!!!

  4. John Boy says:

    The Fraudster (Rick Scott) and the Republican Legislature purposely designed this process and with Gerrymandering to hold on to control in the State. It has angered people so much that it backfired on them. People waited 8 + hours just to stick it up Scott’s ass. The people will remember this and Scott is done. If he has an ounce of brains he will not even run for re-election. If he does he will get the results that her deserves, about 10% and that be generous because of his Taliban Teabagger supporters.

  5. Mario DiGirolamo says:

    It really is an embarrassment and a huge inconvenience for voters in FL. Here we are in 2012, and we are still dealing with similar issues to the election disaster of 2000. This year in Flagler County, they made us stand outside in the cold and rain to wait our turn for a voting booth to become available. Normally, we would have already entered the building to wait our turn. I have a feeling that this was done intentionally in an effort to discourage the huge turnout of blue voters. We should commend those in south FL who waited in lines until after midnight to vote. Outstanding! Finally, having 12 confusing & misleading constitutional amendments on the ballot, which ended up being 4 pages long, was absurd. It appears a large percentage of voters did not receive sample ballots to review and research ahead of time. There is much work to be done.

  6. Dorothea says:

    The Republican Florida Speaker of the House-elect has probably lost his seat to a Democrat. There is a second recount going on.

  7. confidential says:

    As a poll worker in this election I can reassure you all, that was even emotional to see the will of the residents to cast their vote.!! No matter how long they had to wait or how difficult the majority Tea Baggers GOP Tallahassee legislators made it for them to cast their ballots. From shamefully redistricting Florida to break up overwhelming Democrat districts giving GOP’s the upper hand and to cutting in half the early voting time!! I had pregnant ladies waiting in line, others holding little babies standing for an hour, our citizens with disabilities even the sick left their beds to come and vote. Also the useless obstruction of those wasteful rejected amendments (took 30 plus minutes to read) to the Florida constitution, crowding the ballots of a Presidential General Election. Complicating the process as the accu vote ballot scanning equipment in the ballot box, was designed to count only one page ballot per citizen and we had two instead. We need federal law to be enacted to end with these abuses and obstructions for the people to vote. No state, county or city amendments should be allowed to crowd the ballots in a General Presidential Election again! We had two page four sides ballots in Flagler other counties I heard they had ten. Now I even read that observers were banned in some counties from the opening of the absentee ballots? Shame on the GOP!!

    • Want some cheese to go with your whine? says:

      You stand in line at theme parks, grocery stores, graduations, weddings and shouldn’t comPlain about standing in line to vote. Many have given their lives for this right, and to just complain is wrong.

      Those with babies ect have other options of voting if they don’t like or can’t stand in line They don’t move to the front of the line at Walmart so don’t expect to when voting.

      The election went very smooth in Flagler, results were posted quickly, and I’m glad I have the opportunity to vote for my leaders and on important issues.

  8. Magnolia says:

    As clearly so unhappy with your fellow man as most of you are, I wonder what each of you plans to do to help improve the situation?

    This country excels at bashing and name calling and little else.

  9. jl says:

    The ballot was ridiculous. There should be something done where stupid page long amendments cannot be put on the presidential ballot. That should be done at another time. and it is embarrassing for Florida to once again not have their act together. You can’t blame the absentee votes. People should not have had to stand in line for hours waiting to vote. That’s because there weren’t enough places for people to vote and those dumb page long questions for people to read and ponder.

    Scott needs to be tossed out.

  10. Deep South says:

    This could all be cleared up, if they would allow us to vote on-line, or use our cell phones. Who needs polling places, so old school.

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