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Update: Judge rejects Crist's late motion to extend polling in Broward

Broward County Judge Judge Jack Tuter rejected the Crist for Governor campaign's  emergency motion to extend voting hours in Broward County from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. saying it was filed too late, Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes told reporters at about 8 p.m.

One of the reasons “was the lateness of the hour,'' she said. "He wondered why if this issue occurred early in the morning that [lawyer] Mike Ryan did not follow up with the judge or someone, throughout the day, or speak to the Republican Party about the issue." 

Ryan said the court assumed they had met the "standard of irreparable harm" needed to bring the motion, the judge "didn't feel it could reopen the polls.” 

Despite concerns cited by the Crist campaign, Snipes said they were "not aware" of any lines or more than an hour that extended past the 7 p.m. closing time.

“As far as we know there were no major problems,'' she said. "We always have some kind of issues that pop up. we did not have any issues that occurred to our knowledge that would have kept a voter from voting.”

The Crist campaign sought the emergency ruling citing "individual and systemic breakdowns that made it difficult for voters to cast regular ballots" for filing the last-minute appeal.

The request came even as reports from early in the afternoon showed that overall turnout in the county was about 135,000 by midday, only half of the early vote totals. Meanwhile, the campaign says there are reports that there are lines in the black communities of Lauderdale Lakes, North Lauderdale and Weston. 

Broward County Commissioner Tim Ryan also told the Herald that he was aware of a power outage at Croissant Park Elementary school in Fort Lauderdale that "slowed down voting in that location." 

The campaign also reported: 

  • The polling station located at the Croissant Park Elementary School was offline for over an hour and a half this morning – this caused major delays and impacted voters looking to cast a ballot before work.
  • EVID malfunctions in precincts throughout the county caused confusion among voters who were unable to update their address at polling precincts. Those voters were bounced between local precincts and SOE headquarters – ultimately, the system did not register them and they were unable to cast regular ballots.
  • The delay and confusion caused by those EVID malfunctions compounded county-wide confusion related to recent re-precincting. We have reports in many cases that voters who were confused about their proper polling location were provided conflicting information and, in many cases, simply gave up attempting to cast a regular ballot.

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes chuckled when asked about hour-long waits in line at Broward precincts. Her staff told a reporter that everything was running smoothly. 

Asked about the reports of slow turnout, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said she hadn't heard that. 

"Well, I didn't have a particular number, but actually I'm really proud about the strength of our ground game and what's resulted,'' she said, speaking from the Crist Election watch headquarters in St. Peteresburg. "In 2010, we went into Election Day with the Republicans having between absentees and early vote, more than 12 percent more ballots, more of their voters than ours. So our goal in this last election cycle has been to go after the voters who supported Obama in 2008 and 2012 but didn't vote in 2010 and get them turned out to the polls."
"I'm not familiar with the numbers you're quoting to me. 
She said she was confident that they have "injected some new voters, more than enough new voters, into the electorate compared to 2010 that are our voters and that are going to make a very big difference."
She also said there was a steady stream of voters in her district when she was campaigning there this morning. "That to me said there was going to be a strong turnout."