Florida Election Results: Miami-Dade County finishes ballot counting

2:44 PM, Nov 8, 2012   |    comments
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MIAMI, Florida (CBSMiami) - The counting of absentee ballots at Miami-Dade Elections headquarters has wrapped up, more than a day after polls closed.

As Thursday morning began, there had been about 500 to go.

"We will continue this process, it will be completed but it will be done so with integrity and accuracy. Every vote will be counted," said Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley.

See Also: Election results still not final in Florida

Just after noon, county Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak said they elections department had completed the count.

Townsley has received some criticism over the long lines and wait times during the election and the amount of time it has taken to tally the ballots.   When asked if her department could have done more to prepare for the election, Townsley stood firm.

"We have done everything we could have possibly done to be prepared," said Townsley.

Townsley said her team received 31,500 absentee ballots on election day that had to be processed one by one.

"This is simply a matter of sheer volume. We are dealing with a tremendous amount of paper." said Townsley.

The county's canvassing board will meet Thursday afternoon to review the provisional ballots. Generally there are only a few hundred of those. Election officials said they will have the final ballot results on Friday.

Miami-Dade's late results along with delays in a few other counties are the reason Florida was left behind, the only state in the country without a clear winner for president.

While the outcome of the ballot count will not affect the presidential election, there are still two local races too close to call: Erik Fresen versus Ross Hancock for state representative of a district in the Coral Gables area and Bruno Barreiro versus Luis Garcia for a county commission seat.

In addition to the races, the perception nationwide that Florida is the only state which has yet to complete its election results could have another negative impact. Phillis Oeters, Chairwoman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, said it could affect business here.

"We have to work extra hard then to convince businesses to move here," said Oeters.

Even President Barack Obama mentioned Florida in his victory speech.

"Whether you voted for the very first time, or waited in line for a very long time... by the way, we have to fix that," said Obama.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez weighed in on the delays and long lines.

"Some people at the elections department made certain assumptions in some districts, in some precincts, that didn't come to pass. They didn't put enough resources there; either machines or people, probably more people," said Gimenez.

Townsley said they plan to review this year's election plan to see where they could improve in the future.

"Staffing, equipment, there are many lessons that can be taken away from this election," said Townsley.

Oeters said the Chamber of Commerce will urge local and state leaders to take action and fix whatever went wrong on Election Day.

"Our vote in our state was irrelevant in the conversation last (Tuesday) night," said Oeters. "We need to be taken seriously by the federal government."

Gimenez said he plans to ask Governor Rick Scott to open more early voting sites and limit the length of the ballot for the next election to hopefully prevent delays like this.

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