In the end, Florida didn’t actually matter at all. And that’s a good thing. Because even though President Obama got more than enough electoral votes to win reelection Tuesday, Florida is still officially up for grabs. No, there are no hanging chads or butterfly ballots this time. Not even any major glitches. And unlike 2000, there won’t be a recount where the future of the country hangs in the balance. But with record turnout – more than 70 percent – local elections supervisors are still trying to tally absentee and provisional ballots that could push the Florida outcome one way or the other. As of Wednesday afternoon, nine counties, including Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade, were still tallying those votes.
“We are trying to work as fast as we can,” Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said. And though the Florida Department of State acknowledged it was possible that the counties could finish counting absentee ballots by the end of the day, it’s likely a total vote count won’t be available until Saturday.
In contrast, even Hawaii, which is five hours behind Florida, was able to call the state right after 6 p.m. local time when the polls closed.
As of Wednesday night, Obama was leading in Florida by 49,884 votes. It’s likely he will maintain the lead, but it’s still an unknown.
The fact that Florida can’t call the state yet for either Obama or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has officially conceded, has put us once again in the political spotlight, and made the state the butt of national jokes.
More seriously, the images of long lines of Floridians waiting to vote have given Democrats and voting rights groups a platform to attack Republicans for changes they made in a 2011 election law that shortened the number of early voting days from 14 to eight.