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Miami-Dade report: County to blame for some elections problems

The waits of up to seven hours at some Miami-Dade polls during last month’s presidential election occurred in part because the county failed to estimate how much time it would take to fill out 10- to 12-page ballots, did not open more early-voting sites and decided not draw new precincts this year as planned, a report issued Wednesday concluded.

A last-minute surge in absentee ballots that overwhelmed the elections department staff, and a 12-hour Election Day breakdown of a machine that sorts the ballots also delayed the final results tally by two days, according to the department’s after-action report.

Wednesday’s report was the first comprehensive document outlining all of the factors that contributed to troubles in Miami-Dade. State officials, local elected leaders and county administrators have been piecing it together since the Nov. 6 election.

Some of the blame lies with Florida lawmakers, who placed 11 lengthy constitutional amendments on the ballot and cut the number of early-voting days to eight from 14.

But the 53-page report, while not providing any explicit mea culpas, also places responsibility on the county’s election department, run by Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s appointed elections supervisor, Penelope Townsley.

“It was a combination of factors,” Gimenez told The Miami Herald Wednesday evening. “But I can’t put the blame on any one person or one entity. The blame can go all the way around.”

The report points to seven key factors that affected the election, which was budgeted to cost $11.3 million: