Miami-Dade will not report full election results until Wednesday, election supervisors said Tuesday night, as dozens of polls remained open four hours after closing time.
Lines were so long in some polling places, that the last voter did not leave the West Kendall Regional Libary until a few minutes after 1 A.M. At 10:50 p.m., 90 percent of the precincts had closed in Miami-Dade. That meant that at least 80 precincts were still plagued by lines four hours after the polls closed, as people waited six hours or longer to cast their ballots.
Adding to the local election woes were the 18,000 absentee ballots that came in on Tuesday. Those had yet to be processed and were not expected to be counted until Wednesday, according to Deputy Supervisor Christina White.
The ballot was "the largest in Miami-Dade county history, and that has contributed to the length of time it has taken,” said Miami-Dade Election Supervisor Penelope Townsley. "We will continue the count through the night and have a total sometime tomorrow.''
When polls officially closed at 7 p.m. hundreds of people were still waiting to cast ballots in precincts around South Florida, in an election that was marked by long lines and the occasional snafu. Even after the networks called the race for President Obama, people in South Florida remained in line.
From Hialeah to Country Walk and Brickell, people waited as long as seven hours to vote. In Broward County, voting at some precincts came to a halt when the ballots ran out. At the South Kendall Community Church, 1,000 people were in line at closing time, and at least 200 remained three hours later.
At Ronald Reagan High School in Doral, the doors closed with some 300 people still in line. By law, any voter who arrived before 7 p.m. is allowed to cast a ballot.
Many voters throughout the day said they waited hours and gave up.
The scene was repeated at Country Walk and the West Kendall Regional Library, where staggering numbers of people waited hours to cast ballots. Jesse J. McCrary Elementary School had a three-hour wait and no bathrooms, while voters in Goulds experienced a five-hour wait, according to a memo sent to elections supervisors highlighting the trouble spots.
A spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Office blamed the 10-page ballot for the long lines and voter delays, but declined to say whether local officials could have done anything differently. She insisted that more poll equipment and workers were dispatched Tuesday than in 2008, and added that some locations were limited by space constraints.
But voters complained that many stations lacked enough poll workers, scanning machines and privacy booths to address the crowds. Dozens of workers were diverted from closed polling places to others that faced daunting queues, and 150 extra optical scanners were distributed throughout the day.
“We do all equipment allocations based on registered voters in a precinct,” said Christina White, deputy supervisor of elections. “We sent more voting booths, more privacy booths and more scanners [to polling places] in this election than any other.”
State election officials said the turnout was on track to break Florida records. And with a shorter early voting period this year, experts said the combination proved problematic for some precincts.
South Kendall Community Church