Lawsuits, Lines Mark Chaotic End of Early Voting; Leon Extends Absentee Deadline

Nov 5, 2012

2:30 pm Update: Democrats win lawsuit, Broward to open. Everyone in line before 5 pm can cast in-person, absentee ballots.

10:24 am Update:

Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections office open from 9-5 pm

Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections office open from 8-5 pm

Hillsboro County Supervisor of Elections office open from 9-5 pm

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office open from 9-5 pm

Orange County, Unknown

Broward, closed

--

The Leon County Supervisors of Elections Office is open Monday for absentee, in-person voting, a move that comes as several other counties have taken similar efforts.

Governor Rick Scott refused a request by Democrats to extend the early voting period, which ended Friday. The request came after several South Florida counties reported long lines and wait times.

The Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit early Sunday to force the South Florida counties to open.

“Voting is a fundamental right, and we all have an interest in assuring that all Americans have effective opportunities to vote. Florida’s Republican state legislature has already reduced the number of days to early vote by six days,” said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith in a statement posted on the party’s website.

“Because of Gov. Scott’s refusal to follow precedent and extend early voting hours in the face of unprecedented voter turnout in South Florida, we are requesting in federal court that more Floridians have a meaningful chance to early vote."

Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Orange and Pinellas Supervisors of Elections Offices all opened on Sunday, rendering the lawsuit moot.

The elections office in Miami-Dade County has reopened after shutting its doors to voters who waited in long lines for an absentee ballot. Deputy Supervisor Christina White says election officials were overwhelmed by the size of the crowd Sunday. With limited staff and one printer, election officials decided to shut down the main office.

However, the Elections Office in Broward County, a Democratic stronghold, is shut down today, and Party Officials say they’re concerned.

State election officials say nearly 4.5 million Floridians have already voted. So far nearly 1.9 million Democrats have voted early, or used an absentee ballot, compared to 1.73 million Republicans. An additional 795,711 non-affiliated people have also voted.