A number of those voters who didnt receive the absentee ballots they ordered wound up in early voting lines. And they waited. Some left. Some came back. Some left again.
Many discouraged from voting early or absentee showed up on Election Day. But the lines were so horrendous in some precincts that voters left. One woman fainted.
I cant wait any longer, another woman, who had been waiting in line for hours at South Kendall Community Church, said before she left without giving her name.
The long early voting lines discouraged voters like Alfie Fernandez, a mother who works from home. She twice tried to vote early in person but left each time after waiting a cumulative five hours.
On Tuesday, she showed up at West Kendall Regional Library and spent 10 hours in line. Just to vote.
Its this particular precinct, Fernandez said. Its a disaster.
The last vote at the precinct was cast by an unidentified woman at 1:08 a.m., after Republican Mitt Romney conceded the national race. Florida wasnt called until after the fact, on Saturday.
It was all a stark example of a Florida elections butterfly effect, the idea that something small like the beating of a bugs wings can ultimately affect a large storm.
Thanks to the 2000 butterfly ballot that confused voters in Palm Beach County, Florida became ground zero for elections meltdowns. Palm Beach County had 30,000 spoiled ballots cast by confused voters in 2000 due in great part to the bad ballot design. Duval Countys lesser-known caterpillar ballot which crawled from one page to another helped lead to another 26,000 spoiled ballots.
George W. Bush won Florida and therefore the presidency by 537 votes that year. Incidentally, the official turnout rate was 70 percent, a point less than this years.
The 2000 election fiasco made clear the importance of ballot design on elections. Twelve years later, ballot design is a major culprit again.
But technology, too, is to blame.
After 2000, the state banned the use of punch-card ballots, which were used in large counties because they were easier to vote and easier to count quickly. Big counties then began using touch-screen voting machines, which allow people to quickly vote and officials to quickly tally those results.
But touch-screens had no paper trails and, in the 2006 congressional race to replace former Secretary of State Katherine Harris (of 2000 election fame/infamy), thousands of votes appeared to be lost.
A year later, Crist insisted that a recalcitrant state Legislature scrap touch-screens in favor of a paper-trail system, notably the fill-in-the-blank optical-scan ballots.
Unlike punch-cards and touch-screens, opti-scan ballots take a relatively long time to fill out. Voters want to make sure theyre properly bubbling in their choice. A low-tech device like a ball-point pen can mean more time voting as well. In Miami-Dade, voters used ball-point pens, which take longer for a voter to bubble-in a choice when compared to marker-like pens, which voters get to use in Leon County.
The first statewide presidential election with opti-scans across Florida, in 2008, showed that the technology made for longer lines.
Seeing the long lines in South Florida in 2008, then-Gov. Charlie Crist extended early voting for a cumulative 120 hours. South Florida used every minute of it then.