Another presidential election has come and gone. Only not in Florida, where through much of Wednesday the swing state’s 29 electoral votes remained an unclaimed, though largely inconsequential, prize. One day after President Obama was re-elected, Florida, where he held a slim lead, was still too close to call — stuck in postelection mode once again as several counties tallied absentee ballots. Luckily, unlike the 2000 presidential contest, when the country’s attention hung on hanging chads, this year’s election made Florida’s choice an afterthought. “After this election, Florida is worse than a laughingstock,” Billy Corben, a Miami documentary filmmaker and avid election night Twitter user, said with a smile. “We’re now an irrelevant laughingstock.” The denouement, though, was fitting in an election season that lurched from flash fire to flash fire, beginning with a 2011 move by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature to reduce the number of early voting days and place 11 complex proposed amendments on the ballot.
To complicate matters further, several counties in Florida agreed early this week to allow voters to request and complete absentee ballots in person at an elections office after a lawsuit by Democrats was filed in federal court asking for more early voting days.
With the two candidates running neck and neck in this swing state, masses of voters turned out to cast their ballots. All of which led to time-crushing lines on Election Day, despite attempts to get people to vote absentee.
“Voters were determined to have their voices heard in this state,” said Susan MacManus, a University of South Florida political science professor.
On Tuesday, lines stretched and swirled around the more urban parts of the state, particularly in pockets of Miami-Dade County, where people waited as long as six hours. Even after President Obama was declared the victor, a few voters stayed put so they could vote.