TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (UPI) — Election results in Florida still aren’t certified, prompting some residents to express discomfiture their state was making Election Day headlines, again.
America woke up Wednesday to the news President Obama was re-elected, Republicans retained control of the U.S. House, Democrats still held sway in the U.S. Senate and Florida’s balloting was too close to call because of long lines on Election Day — some precincts reported the last voters cast ballots after Republican Mitt Romney conceded — and tens of thousands of absentee ballots uncounted.
But this time, unlike the 2000 tilt between Republican George W. Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore, the 2012 election doesn’t rest on the allocation of Florida’s 29 electoral votes.
“We’re such an embarrassment,” Tya Eachus of Miami, who waited in line for three hours Tuesday, told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s always a fiasco with us.”
With 8.3 million Florida votes in, Obama held a 46,000-vote lead over Romney. Election workers were counting thousands of absentee ballots, and race trackers, mindful of the 2000 confusion, refrained from calling Florida until all the votes were in — even by Thursday.
Results were due by noon Saturday, said Chris Cate, a spokesman for the state elections department.
Miami-Dade finished tallying more than 31,000 absentee ballots early Thursday, The Miami Herald said. Two other counties were reported still counting theirs.
Elsewhere in the Sunshine State, a congressional race with national implications was still undecided. Rep. Allen West, R-Palm Beach, a national Tea Party figure who has drawn the ire of liberals, trails his Democratic opponent by 2,465 votes.
All precincts in the race have been counted, The Palm Beach Post reported Wednesday. West has refused to concede, citing what he views is “disturbing irregularities” in the vote in St. Lucie, where Patrick Murphy, the Democrat, ran up a 13,271 vote victory. West, meanwhile, only defeated Murphy by about 400 votes in Palm Beach County.
By Florida election law, ballots must be recounted if the election is decided by less than 0.5 percent of the vote. Murphy’s lead is barely larger than that — 0.7 percent of the vote.
West’s refusal to concede prompted Murphy to email supporters seeking post-election donations in what could turn into a protracted legal battle.
The troubles at some polling places throughout the state put an exclamation point to a long and uneasy election cycle for the Sunshine State that saw fights over a proposed voter purge by Republican Gov. Rick Scott and a highly contested law pushed through by Republicans lawmakers that whacked early voting hours.
John Camp, an attorney with a non-profit coalition called Election Protection, told the Times most of the Miami-Dade County workers really tried to keep long lines moving. Still, he said, there were problems.
“I agree, it does seem like we don’t ever seem to get it right,” Camp said, “even though we keep trying.”
In a radio interview with WLRN-FM, Miami, Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said the election “was a disaster.”
Miami attorney Kendall Coffey told the Herald the governor they could have eased the situation by going with former Gov. Charlie Crist’s plan to add extra early voting days.
Scott, during a news conference Wednesday, said his administration needed to review how it managed its election process while being fiscally prudent.
“Whenever you finish a project, in this case an election,” he said, “[officials must] go back and look. What went right? What can we improve?”