Absentee ballots are often touted as a pain-free, easy way to cast a vote without having to stand in long lines at a polling station.
But nearly 2,500 Miami-Dade County voters had their absentee ballots rejected this election in what amounts to a wake-up call for those who ignore or fall prey to the perils and pitfalls of not voting in person. Another 2,100 ballots were rejected in Broward County.
Some voters forgot to sign their ballots. The county elections office negated others because the signature on the ballot didn’t match the voter’s on-file John Hancock. And three voters died in between Election Day and the time they sent in their absentee ballots.
Most absentee ballots in Miami-Dade and Broward were rejected because they arrived well after Nov. 6 at the elections office.
Many voters were angry. They cast their mail-in ballots from home for convenience, only to face a greater inconvenience when their vote didn’t count.
“I voted absentee because I realized lines in Miami-Dade County would be horrendous and I didn’t feel I wanted to deal with that hassle,” Patricia Tepedino, a 45-year-old Democratic Obama voter, wrote in an email.
Absentee ballots are often touted as a pain-free, easy way to cast a vote without having to stand in long lines at a polling station.
"After a thorough review, your provisional bllot was not counted because the signature on the provisional ballot certificate envelope did not match the signature on your voter registration record," according to the letter, which Slater later pulled from Twitter.
Slater had Tweeted about his Election Day-wait as well as his problems casting a ballot.
"Made it in the room only to find out the DMV didn't register me when I got my new license. They asked me if I wanted to reg and I said yes," Slater tweeted on Election Day. "So, now I'm standing by and waiting while this guy tries to get the State on the phone I guess. I really want to vote."
He did, by provisional ballot.
Get ready for more stories like this in Florida. Tens of thousands of provisional ballots were cast in Florida and many of them didn't count.
Provisional ballots are used when a person's voter registration or voting precinct are in doubt. In each of the 67 counties, the provisional ballots are then reviewed by a three-member canvassing board that tries to determine if the vote were legitimately cast before counting it.
Edgar Oliva waited to vote at Shenandoah Elementary School and fretted.
The line was too long. The clock was ticking. He had to get to work across town.
Twice before, during in-person early voting, he tried to vote but he had to leave because lines were even longer. Tuesday was his third try at voting in between one of his two jobs, cleaning carpets in Doral and working at an airport hotel.
About 4 p.m. on Election Day, he gave up.
“I had the intention of voting but there were always a lot of people,” Oliva, a native of Guatemala, told a Miami Herald reporter as he left the scene.
Oliva had so much company on Tuesday.
Voter after voter who spoke to Herald reporters on Election Day said the longer early voting lines dissuaded them from casting early ballots in person. And then the unexpected long lines on Election Day just compounded the sense of frustration in some places. Many dropped out of line.
The experience played out across the state. Data show the 71.13 percent turnout percentage in 2012 fell well short of the rates in 2008 (75 percent) and 2004 (74 percent).
Florida blew its chance to help determine the presidency, but did win a fabulous booby prize: another starring role in many a late-night and Internet punch line.
Jon Stewart, host of the popular Daily Show, looked on the bright side Wednesday night, noting that unlike during the infamous 2000 Bush-Gore race, the entire nation wasn’t waiting on Florida to figure out who won.
“Here’s the good news: The election was decided without them,’’ Stewart said, drawing a rousing cheer from his studio audience. “For once, Florida’s clusterf---ery is irrelevant.’’
He also indelicately compared the state map to a flaccid male organ and, in another nod to the 2000 fiasco, noted the inherent problem of giving “a 10-page novelette state ballot to people who couldn’t handle a [expletive deleted] one-page butterfly ballot.’’
The jokes, naturally, didn’t play quite as well with South Florida elections officials and political leaders.
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/11/09/174216/florida-becomes-election-jokes.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_term=news#storylink=cpy
Florida voters to the tea party: Cool it.
Tuesday's election in the nation's biggest battleground state was a rejection of the drift of the conservative movement and the Republican Legislature it empowered.
The state voted, albeit as narrowly as possible, for President Obama, whose 2008 election brought about the rise of tea-party conservatism. Iconic tea party Congressman Allen West might also lose (he's seeking a recount). He was painted as a name-calling extremist by Democratic opponent Patrick Murphy.
And voters rejected the Legislature's tea party-inspired proposed state constitutional amendments, starting with a measure opposing Obama's healthcare law.
The author of that proposal, Longwood state Rep. Scott Plakon, lost his election, which he credits to an Obama turnout machine that Republicans underestimated in Florida.
"This is hard for me to process," Plakon said. "With all the debt, all the unemployment and the bad economic indicators, how is it that Obama is only 2.5 percentage points down from where he was in 2008?"
Plakon pointed out that conservatism is alive and well in Florida; Obama barely won and the Legislature is still firmly in the hands of Republicans.
In congratulating Obama on his win, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio issued a statement last night re-affirming his commitment to conservative principles. But he subtly noted a shortcoming of the tea party: The tenor of the immigration debate, which probably cost Mitt Romney some support among Florida Hispanics, the fastest-growing segment of the electorate.
"The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them," Rubio said.
It's happened before in Florida, so it's worth thinking about again -- what if there's a recount?
Under Florida law, a recount is automatically triggered in any race decided by a margin of one-half of one percent. If 9 million people vote in Florida -- a plausible figure, given reports of heavy turnout around the state -- that means there could be a recount if the presidential vote is decided by 45,000 votes or less.
In a recount, all ballots are submitted again into the tabulating machines to recount the votes. If the recount yields a margin of one-quarter of one percent, the local canvassing boards must then perform another manual recount to examine so-called "undervotes" and "overvotes" -- ballots that recorded no vote for president, or multiple votes for president.
Any recount must be completed within nine days from the day it was ordered by the Secretary of State. However, state law also says any recounts must be completed within 12 days of Election Day.
But, just as in the 2000 recount, there are tensions between the state and federal law: Elections officials still must collect absentee ballots cast overseas for some 10 days after election day. So overseas ballots could trickle in through Nov. 16, with a recount deadline of Nov. 18.
In 2008, more than 97,000 absentee ballots were cast by overseas Florida voters.
For those who have blotted it from their memories: The 2000 contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore was decided by just 537 votes in Florida.
Miami-Dade, Florida's largest county, has become a place of wait and wait-nots.
In some precincts, voters were in and out in 30 minutes. Lines stretched up to three hours in others. It all depends.
But that wasn't the case at the UTD Towers in downtown Miami where it took voters up to 6.5 hours to cast a ballot. In Hialeah, the wait was about 6 hours for some. At South Kendall Community Church, it took some voters 5 hours.
Voters reported that the problems were largely of a technical or simple nature: The ballot was too long, slowing people down. That, in turn, led people to take longer in their voting booths, leading to longer waits outside. Then, voters had to line up to feed the ballot -- 5 sheets at least -- into the ballot.
It could get worse over the next hour and 15 minutes. People are getting off work now. Many will go vote. Some might not."I can't wait any longer," one South Kendall voter said earlier in the day, dropping out of line. That's a lost vote for whomever.
It was worse at UTD. Poll watchers said the precinct was understaffed and poorly organized.
For one, poll workers had trouble finding voters' names in the hard-copy registry because two precincts (and six sub-precincts) were voting at one location.
And of the eight ballot scanners, only two were working, said Manuel E. Iglesias, a volunteer attorney for the Romney campaign. Only two people were able to vote at any one time, he said.
Meanwhile, the line to vote contained more than 400 people and stretched around the perimeter of the property. It took four hours to move 250 voters.
"This is the worst excuse for a precinct I've ever seen," Iglesias said.
So who's to blame?
Perhaps every level of government:
1) The Legislature. In a fit of pique, after the Florida Supreme Court, tossed legislatively designed constitutional amendments off the ballot, the lawmakers decided to print the measures in full on the ballot. And they put 10 of them on the ballot. That takes a while to get through. The Legislature also shortened early voting days in Florida to eight from 14 in 2008, when Democrats flocked to the early vote sites and secured Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
2) Gov. Rick Scott. Unlike his predecessor, Gov. Charlie Crist, Scott refused to extend the cumulative early voting hours. They're capped at 96 hours for the early voting period. In 2008, South Florida voters had 120 hours of early voting time. That's a reduction of 20 percent of early voting time in the most-populous region of the state.
3) Miami-Dade County. Officials knew the ballot was long. They knew it would take time. They knew this would be a big election. Yet they didn't have enough scanning machines in some precincts or enough voting booths to handle the volume or both.
This doesn't mean the entire election is a fiasco. But it is for those who decided to actually vote on Election Day, only to lose hours of their lives to long lines that were made by government action or inaction.
Yes, people could have cast absentee ballots. More than 2.1 million did in Florida. But dozens (and perhaps more) reported requesting ballots but never receiving them. Or they received them late. It seems that, whether it's absentee ballots or early voting or Election Day voting, the combined forces of this presidential election are straining aspects of the voting system.
--- with Kathleen McGrory
With 4.5m votes in, election could be half over in FL. A look at the white, black and brown early vote
Election Day could already be half over in Florida before polling stations open at 7 a.m.
More than 4.5 million people have voted early, which accounts for 38 percent of the state’s 12 million registered voters and half of the ones likely to cast a ballot.
Democrats have a lead in total ballots cast over Republicans — 167,000 — but polls indicate Republican Mitt Romney is in a better position than President Barack Obama.
Obama is worse off than he was four years ago. Depending on how the data are sliced, his pre-Election Day lead could be half of what it was in 2008.
Still, Democrats are up in early ballots.
“It’s half-over, but it’s tied,” said Michael McDonald, a George Mason University political science professor and early voting expert. “There’s still another half to play.”
This is the tough half. If Obama wins Florida, he wins re-election.
The campaigns will be phoning voters who don’t show up, providing rides and keeping electronic tabs on bellwether precincts. It’s a massive numbers game involving tens of thousands of grassroots volunteers and data-mining techies monitoring the campaigns’ progress — or lack thereof — in real time from headquarters in Chicago (Obama) and Boston (Romney).
McDonald said this Florida election had a surprise: Higher proportions of Republicans cast in-person early votes compared to 2008, and even higher percentages of Democrats cast absentee ballots, which are typically mailed.
About 2.1 million absentee ballots were cast statewide — in addition to 2.4 million in-person early votes. The numbers show that, when it comes to voting, Florida has racial divisions that play to each campaign’s strengths, according to an analysis of preliminary voter data conducted by The Miami Herald and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting:
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/05/3083613/floridas-presidential-election.html#storylink=cpy
More than 4.5 million Florida votes are already in before Election Day and Democrats used the last full official day of in-person early voting to extend their lead over Republican ballots cast by 167,000, according to this morning's figures.Note: But for the numbers, the language in this blog is nearly identical to yesterday's. It's repeated here to provide context. The Saturday early vote numbers that were available Sunday morning weren't fully updated. Now they're as current as can be, along with the most-recent absentee-ballot numbers. And a big shout-out to Trevor Aaronson, with the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, who helped pick up the early vote data analysis slack the past 3 days.
The last day of early voting was a whopper: a record 385,000 people early voted.
In all, about 38 percent of registered voters have cast ballots and about 50 of likely voters have. There are still absentee ballots pouring in.
That means wait times at polling stations on Election Day will be much shorter than the early vote wait times that have plagued South Florida for the past eight days. Tens of thousands of more early votes, by way of absentee ballots, are still flowing in and a few thousand (but not tens of thousands) more will come by way of in-person absentee ballots cast at some election supervisors' offices in select counties, such as Miami Dade (more here on that).
Early voting was shortened in 2012 compared to 2008, and the numbers are smaller.
According to George Mason University's United States Elections Project (which tracks early voting) about 2.6 million in-person early votes were cast in 2008 over 14 days in Florida. This year, after the GOP-led Legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Scott cut the days to eight, it's 2.4 million. But absentee ballot voting is stronger. In 2008, 1.7 million cast absentee ballots and this year the number will exceed 2 million.
Guess which type of voting Republicans specialize in? Absentee ballots. Democrats do better at in-person early voting. Though more fraud-prone, absentee ballot voting wasn't touched in the election law Scott signed that shortened early voting days.
In all, Republicans have cast 79,000 more absentee ballots than Democrats. Democrats have cast 247,000 more in-person early votes.
Using the GMU numbers (and there are other numbers that differ from them), Democrats had a cumulative lead as high as 363,000 ballots in 2008, or about 8 percentage points. The Republicans say the Democrats' 2008 lead was about 315,000. And the Democrats say their lead was about 269,000. Our latest analysis of those 2008 voters who remain on the rolls now shows the Democrat early ballot/pre-Election Day lead would be about 282,000 if the presidential election four years ago were held with the current electorate.
Regardless, that Democrat lead has been cut to 4 points, or 167,000 -- and not just because of the shortened early voting period.
There's a sense of diminished Democratic enthusiasm for the president compared to 2008. And the Democrats actually lost more voters between 2008 and 2012 than Republicans and the Democratic Party grew at a slower pace (this was before Scott's voter bill was signed in 2011).
Also of note: a Miami Herald poll indicated Romney gets more crossover votes than Obama and is winning the early vote anyway.
Early vote numbers:
Not in Miami. Not in Florida.
Consider what happened Sunday when Miami-Dade’s elections office, to serve the tens of thousands of people who wanted to vote early, decided to open its Doral headquarters office to allow for more in-person early voters.
That’s when good intentions paved a pathway to public-relations hell.
There weren’t enough functioning printers at the headquarters. There weren’t enough workers. And there were too many voters, about 180, who showed up when the voting was unexpectedly offered as a bonus.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez wasn’t told, either.
So then the office shut down voting, partly due to Gimenez, and tried to turn people away. One woman, among the throngs who had illegally parked due to the tight conditions, found that her car had been towed — one of two hauled away from the lot.
Then someone scrounged up a printer and someone told Gimenez, a Republican, how utterly foolish it would be to turn away voters. Voting was then allowed to proceed more than an hour later.
“We went through a lot to actually vote,” said Justin Walden, 18.