The lines to vote in Florida were so long that President Barack Obama took time at the start of his re-election speech early Wednesday morning to point it out. “By the way, we need to fix that,” Obama said. It’s not as if we didn’t know that. As in 2000, Florida gained national attention on Election Day for holding up the final tally of votes in a tight presidential race. Long lines, tardy results, apologetic elections officials — this is how it’s done in the Sunshine State. “I’m hesitant to say what went wrong,” said Daniel Tokaji, a law professor and elections expert at Ohio State University. “But the president is right, we do need to fix this. In the long run, this will dampen turnout if it takes this long to vote.” When asked about Obama’s comments, Gov. Rick Scott said he was open to suggestions.
“One thing I think we always ought to be doing is always look at when we finish something and say, ‘What can we improve?’ ” Scott told reporters Wednesday. “So I’ll be sitting down with the secretary of state’s office to look at the things that we can improve. But here’s the positive, we had a lot of people to go out and vote. We had 4.4 million vote either absentee or early voting. That’s great. We had unbelievable interest in our Election Day. So I think all those are positive.”
Scott can start in Fort Myers, where Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington broke into tears as she apologized for the delays, which she blamed on an exceptionally long ballot. Orange and Broward experienced long delays, too, but the lines were longest in Miami-Dade, where at least 80 precincts still had lines four hours after polls closed at 7 p.m.
The last ballots of the 2012 election were cast in Miami-Dade shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, more than six hours after the polls closed.
Republican strategist John Weaver, a senior adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, posted on Twitter: “I’ve been an election observer in places that NEVER had Democracy before who seem to have the concept down better than party of Florida.”
What happened in Miami-Dade was a “localized” problem, officials said, and not the result of changes the Legislature made to the early voting schedule.