The Election
9:30 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Miami-Dade Ballot Count Continues

Miami Dade County election workers are expecting to finish processing absentee ballots sometime today. Then, they'll be able to tell President Obama whether he also won Florida on election day.

The bags of thousands of ballots are the result of a series of voting snafus related to high turnout and restrictive voting rules that persuaded hordes of local voters to vote absentee rather than wait in line, possibly for hours, at  their polling stations.

In-Person Absentee: A elections official checks a voter's signature before accepting her absentee ballot.
Credit Rick Stone

The uncounted votes cast Florida once more as the obstacle that keeps the country from finalizing its election returns. Local leaders are angry and embarrassed.

"This is not a third-world country," fumed Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez as the vote tabulation proceeded tediously at the Supervisor of Elections' Doral headquarters. He said he'll be asking Gov. Rick Scott to extend the early voting schedule that the 2011 Legislature shortened drastically and to allow a greater number of early voting sites.

The Miami Herald told us how absentee ballots are counted:

To start, a dozen elections staffers must electronically compare images of voters’ signatures on absentee ballots with the signatures on the voters’ registration cards. Then the workers must determine whether the ballots have been properly filled out before counting them in scanning machines.

If staffers reject any ballots, they set them aside for the Miami-Dade canvassing board to make the final call. The board, sitting in an adjacent room, consists of the chair, County Judge Shelley Kravitz, County Judge Andrew Hague, and the county supervisor of elections, Penelope Townsley.

The task began with bags containing about 30,000 ballots, each at least five pages long. Each one of those pages has to be had-fed through a tabulation scanner.