After Year Of Election Law Fights, Florida Irrelevant To Obama Win

Nov 7, 2012

It had looked like Florida was headed for a recount for most of election night because of the razor-thin margin between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. And Florida was the last state to declare a winner. But it turned out not to matter to the overall outcome.

Long lines in Miami-Dade County had voters waiting to cast ballots hours after President Obama was declared the winner of the national election.

The high voter turnout across the state marked the end of a contentious election year. It was all marked by lawsuits over changes to early voting and the state’s purge of non-citizens from its rolls. But, on Tuesday, Florida’s top elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, said, the election had run smoothly with no major problems.

“People have been very patient today," he said. "It’s been very heartwarming to see people having exchanges and interactions with each other, talking politics.”

Detzner said the 4.5 million Floridians who had already cast ballots, by absentee ballots and through early voting, before Election Day, helped keep the lines shorter on Tuesday. Although, some people trying to vote in Miami-Dade reported wait times of up to six hours.

“It’s a calculation issue that supervisors have to make about how many precincts they have, how many voting booths,"  he said, "and when they see lines start building up, they can get backlogged.”

Detzner said, he has several ideas about how to improve on the current election process. And he plans to share them with Gov. Rick Scott. He wouldn’t elaborate on his suggested changes, yet, but he did say he thinks the contentious changes to early voting are a good thing. After the Florida Legislature shortened early voting from 12 to eight days, lawsuits had challenged the change as being unfavorable to minority voters, who tend to vote early in higher percentages.

But Detzner said, he doesn’t think the changes should be reversed.

“I think one election cycle really is not enough to evaluate what it was, but people were happy with it," he said. "We’ll take some feedback from the public and supervisors. But, at this point in time, I don’t think I would.”

After congressional and state legislative redistricting in Florida, many voters’ precincts have changed this year. And that caused many people to show up at the wrong precinct, according to poll watchers around the state. Reportedly, those voters were being told to cast provisional ballots or they had to travel to the correct polling place before 7 p.m. That caused the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida to say, it was concerned about potential vote suppression.

But even with that confusion, and after a year of being under the microscope, it turned out Florida didn’t play a part in determining the presidential race outcome anyway. Even as Florida remained the last state in the nation to call a winner, Obama had 303 electoral votes to Romney’s 206.