Sunday, November 4, 2012

Long Lines for Early Voting in Florida


Reuters: Early Voting Extended in Parts of Florida
Saturday was the last day for early voting in Florida, where polls showed Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney running neck-and-neck.
But Orange County Elections Supervisor Bill Cowles reopened the polls at one site, a library in the Orlando suburb of Winter Park, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The library was evacuated and voting there was suspended for four hours on Saturday because suspicious items were found on the grounds. A bomb squad safely detonated both - a cooler containing small electronics and what investigators described as a bag of miscellaneous garbage.
. . . In Miami, the Florida Democratic Party filed suit in U.S. District Court on Sunday asking for an extension of early voting opportunities in densely populated Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, where some voters waited six and seven hours to cast ballots on Saturday.
The lawsuit said the lines in the Democratic-leaning region were longer than in other areas, deterring or preventing people from voting.
. . . Election supervisors' offices were also opened in several other densely populated counties on Sunday for in-person absentee balloting.
Republican Governor Rick Scott refused on Thursday to extend early voting statewide despite the long lines.

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UPDATE 2:50 p.m.: The Miami-Dade Elections office is facing a backlash Sunday evening after the lone voting location was quickly overrun by would-be voters, and because the location is far from neighborhoods where Democrats are most likely to live. From the Miami Herald:
The department had opened its Doral headquarters from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. as a work-around to an early-voting crackdown law.

But by 2 p.m., around 180 voters had showed up, and department spokeswoman Christina White said the office would not be able to accommodate any more voters who showed up. Additional voters would be turned away, she said.

“We had the best of intentions to provide this service today,” she said. “We just can’t accommodate it to the degree that we would like to.”

Shortly after, however, the department locked its doors and shut down the operation without explanation. The people in line did not get to vote.

“Let us vote!” they shouted.

The department had only one ballot-printing machine, five voting booths and two staffers to assist voters Sunday.
Karen Andre, who heads the Florida office for Obama’s Organizing for America field campaign, called the situation “unacceptable,” and said the organization’s attorneys would be “monitoring the situation.”

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