Officials from Miami-Dade County say they have finished counting absentee ballots and will begin counting the county’s 2,800 provisional ballots on Thursday afternoon.
Election officials worked overnight to finish counting the outstanding ballots – votes that are largely to blame for holding up the process of declaring a presidential winner in Florida.
Penelope Townsley, supervisor of election for Miami-Dade County, expects all absentee and provisional ballots will be fully counted by Friday afternoon.
“Am I embarrassed by some of the things that happened? Absolutely,” Townsley told reporters in regards to the voting issues. “But I have to focus on simply getting it right. And that is exactly what I will move to do.”
In an effort to improve the way the next election is carried out in Miami-Dade County, the county will put together an “after action” report, according to Townsley. This report will look to improve both the overall facilities and the number of facilities in the next election.
One reason for the slow process, Townsley said, was the high turnout in the county.
“The turnout was something that caused us to have to deploy additional resources, additional equipment,” Townsley said. “And we will learn from those lessons.”
Florida remains the only state that CNN has yet to call in the already decided election. With 97% of the vote reported, President Barack Obama has earned 4,143,364 votes, edging out Mitt Romney’s 4,096,351.
Florida – and Miami-Dade county in particular – was plagued by long lines at the polls. Voters queued long into the night on Tuesday; some still waiting to vote after the election had been called for Obama.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez called the voting issues “a perfect storm,” in an interview with CNN.
“Without a doubt we had some operational issues that we have got to take care of,” said Gimenez. “We had the longest ballot in Florida history. It probably took voters two and a half times longer to vote individually than they had last time.”
For the mayor, who said he was “already knowledgeable” about all the ballot issue, it took him 10 to 15 minutes to get though the entire ballot. “Could you imagine,” he said, “someone who didn’t know everything on that ballot?”
Though the mayor said he is convening a special panel to look into the election issues, one reason the mayor volunteered was fewer days of early voting.
“We also had fewer days of early voting,” Gimenez said. “That was changed by the state legislator and signed into law by the governor. We need to expand early voting hours again like we had in the past. We also need to expand the number of early voting sites.”
Carolina Lopez, Miami-Dade County Election department spokeswoman, told reporters Thursday in Doral, Florida, that their department worked through the night to process all the 21,500 absentee ballots.
Those ballots, she said, will be “processed very shortly.”
“I believe that when you’re the largest county in the state of Florida, history will put all eyes on us,” Lopez said. “But the important thing is just to keep on, giving the best performance that we can, providing accurate results so that they’re not scrutinized later. I think when it’s all said and done, our 1.3-million registered voters will have solid results and we can move past the presidential election.”
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