Miami-Dade Ballot Count Complete But Final Announcement Still A Day Away

Nov 8, 2012

The absentee ballot count is over in Miami-Dade County but it will be still one more day before President Obama knows for sure if Florida wanted him re-elected.

Still Waiting: Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley will brief Mayor Carlos Gimenez, right, on voting delays that he calls 'inexcusable.'

The results so far: 61.6 percent of Miami-Dade voters chose President Obama over Mitt Romney, who got 37.9 percent. The rest of the vote went to minor candidates. Statewide, it's Obama over Romney by 49.9 to 49.2 percent.

County elections officials say workers were up all night and worked through this morning to tabulate the last-minute 54,000 absentee ballots that swamped the voting system on election day.

But a handful of provisional ballots remain to be processed. Deputy Supervisor of Elections Christina White said it will be Friday afternoon before that task is completed and the official results announced.

For President Obama, the stakes are nothing but satisfaction since he won enough of an electoral vote surplus on Tuesday to win with or without Florida. However, a few local races are hanging in the balance.

Local voters apparently chose to vote by absentee ballot because of long lines that extended the wait to vote by several hours at some precincts. Voting problems have been generally attributed to a new state law that shortened the early voting period from 14 to eight days and Gov. Rick Scott's refusal to extend it when problems began to appear over the weekend.

Florida remains the only state not to have reported a complete vote count and the delay has revived the state's reputation for bungling elections. As the Miami Herald reported, White said the day was "largely a success" with crowding problems at only a few precincts, but Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez was still angry.

The last vote was cast at 1:30 a.m. — after Republican challenger Mitt Romney had delivered his concession speech. Gimenez called those handful of long lines “inexcusable.’’ He said he would ask Elections Supervisor (Penelope) Townsley for a detailed report, convene a task force to examine problems, and press Gov. Rick Scott and lawmakers to extend early voting days and sites. For future presidential elections, he also wants to double or triple the number of early voting sites.

“Obviously we didn’t do something right in those precincts,’’ he said. “It’s not the way we should treat our citizens.’’

The problems drew fire from frustrated voters, voting rights groups and political leaders from both parties. Though there were long lines elsewhere in the state, including Orlando, no reports came close to matching the grinding delays in Miami-Dade.

But the pictures of Floridians waiting patiently in line to vote were shown to President Obama, who mentioned them in his victory speech in Chicago. He told the country, "We have to fix that."