Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley took great joy in pointing out to the Miami Herald that her county beat three other large Florida counties in finishing counting absentee and provisional ballots on Thursday, the third day of ballot counting:
Townsley made note of the fact that Miami-Dade, the state’s largest county, finished ahead of three other big Florida counties — Broward, Palm Beach and Duval.
Broward County finally finished counting ballots at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday, said Broward elections spokeswoman Evelyn Perez-Verdia. Palm Beach and Duval were still tabulating their absentees as of Thursday afternoon.
Florida’s official tally of county-by-county status indicates that Miami-Dadistan has indeed finished its absentee and provisional ballot counting. The tally shows Palm Beach and Duval still counting absentee ballots. However, perhaps because this tally shows that only 19 of the 67 counties at the time of this writing have counted their provisional ballots (I’ve seen no media outlets pointing this detail out), major media outlets such as CNN and the New York Times still have their electoral college counts stuck on 303 to 206, with Floriduh’s 29 electoral votes still not assigned to either candidate. Earlier Thursday, the Romney campaign appeared to concede defeat in Florida, but that also did not lead to moving the scoreboards.
I can’t help wondering if the large number of counties not yet finishing the counting of all of their provisional ballots might be due to the way that large numbers of people were moved to new precincts this year with poor notification that their voting site changed. Poorly trained poll workers may have sent some of these voters to provisional ballots rather than checking to see if the voters had been moved to other nearby voting locations where they would have voted normally.
Despite Townsley trying to claim that her county did an overall good job, she still completely sidestepped questions about what went wrong in the precincts where people stood in line until after 1 am to vote. From the Miami Herald article linked above:
Townsley said her elections staff was prepared for the presidential race turnout and lengthy ballot, which included numerous county and state amendment questions. She said she deployed 200-plus more scanning machines and 400 more poll workers for this election compared with 2008, and made trouble-shooting decisions Tuesday to shift resources where needed.
Asked why there were waits up to six hours at various precincts in the Brickell area of Miami, as well as in West Kendall, Country Walk, Goulds and Homestead, Townsley ducked the question without providing details.
“That is precisely the reason we will be conducting an after-action report to determine what actually went wrong,” she said. “We will learn from those lessons.”
Grover Norquist-style small government advocate Miami-Dadistan Mayor Carlos Gimenez feels that he is on top of the situation. His brilliant plan on Thursday afternoon, according to the Herald, was to assemble a task force (which appears to consist only of county commissioners) to find out what went wrong. I’m guessing that these geniuses won’t trouble their little minds with the possible explanation that cutting government to a size where it can’t function properly might have played a role in leading the world to conclude that they are managing a third world local government.
Meanwhile, Grover Norquist-style small government advocate Foriduh Governor Rick Scott is doing his best to hide from the controversy, but he was forced to comment Thursday:
Florida Governor Rick Scott, heavily criticized when he refused to use his emergency powers to extend the number of early voting days in the state, now says he’s willing to look at whether changes are needed to make voting go smoother.
At an event in Orlando on Thursday morning, Gov. Scott was asked about the voting problems in Florida.
“I’m going to be sitting down with the Secretary of State soon to go through all of the issues that might have come up during the election and make sure we always keep improving,” said Scott.
Overall though, the Governor said he was happy with the election process in Florida this year because so many people came out to vote.
Considering the extreme lengths that Scott and his Republican legislature went to in trying to suppress voter turnout, that last bit where he said he was happy with high turnout must have been a really painful thing for him to say.
The electoral maps showing Barack Obama’s re-election should be complete now, but Florida once again has embarrassed itself completely by being unable to conduct an election. Fortunately, this time the outcome of the election does not hinge on Florida’s 29 electoral votes and only one county appears to be the problem instead of several counties languishing in chaos.
Miami-Dade County has announced that it will not have final election results until Wednesday afternoon. The reports on how the election was handled in parts of the county are truly ugly, as voters in some precincts faced waits of seven hours throughout the day:
The wait at the UTD Tower in Brickell exceeded six hours throughout the day. Even voters who arrived before the polls opened at 7 a.m. found themselves stuck in a seemingly endless line. At closing time, hundreds remained to cast their ballots.
Poll watchers said the precinct was understaffed and poorly organized.
For one, poll workers had trouble finding voters’ names in the hard-copy registry because two precincts (and six sub-precincts) were voting at one location.
“This is the worst excuse for a precinct I’ve ever seen,’’ said Manuel E. Iglesias, a volunteer attorney for the Romney campaign.
Of the eight ballot scanners, only two were working. Only two people were able to vote at any one time, he said.
Alexandra Lange, a 50-year-old Brickell resident, waited more than six hours to fill our her ballot. She left the polling place irate.
“This is a mess,’’ she said. “There is a bottleneck at the door. It is chaos.’’
Chaos due to small government would seem to be the goal of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. From his own biography at the county’s website, we see that he wishes to define himself in terms of tax cuts and small government:
Mayor Gimenez brings decades of invaluable public service experience to the post, and continues to pursue a set of clearly defined priorities that reflect both his governing philosophy and the challenges of the current economic environment. After successfully championing the largest tax cut in County history during his first year in office, due to a special election, his priorities remain reducing the burden on taxpayers and shrinking the size of government, while preserving essential public safety services and programs for seniors and children.
It would seem that conducting an election does not fit into Mayor Gimenez’ definition of an essential government function. Grover Norquist must be very proud of him.
PA’s Supreme Court just sent the state’s voter ID law back to the Commonwealth judge with instructions that, unless the state can ensure that all voters who want a voter ID can get it in time for the election, then the judge must issue an injunction against use of the IDs for November’s election.
Thus, we will return the matter to the Commonwealth Court to make a present assessment of the actual availability of the alternate identification cards on a developed record in light of the experience since the time the cards became available. In this regard, the court is to consider whether the procedures being used for deployment of the cards comport with the requirement of liberal access which the General Assembly attached to the issuance of PennDOT identification cards. If they do not, or if the Commonwealth Court is not still convinced in its predictive judgment that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth’s implementation of a voter identification requirement for purposes of the upcoming election, that court is obliged to enter a preliminary injunction.
As DDay notes, this likely means the judge will have to issue the injunction, given some of the barriers to getting an ID.
The state Supreme Court set the standard that access to ID cards must be extremely easy and generous in order for the law to go forward.
That’s pretty clearly not the case now. There are a limited amount of PennDOT offices available to administer ID cards, and 13 of them are only open once a week. Up until a couple days ago it took two trips to the PennDOT offices to get the ID. With many of the potentially disenfranchised voters elderly, disabled, not close to a PennDOT office and/or with no access to a vehicle, clearly there’s a hardship here for the eligible voters, presumably enough to enjoin the law.
This comes just a few weeks after a panel of Federal judges threw out Texas’ voter ID law because it is too hard–and too expensive–for people to get an ID.
Like any fixed cost, the $22 (minimum) EIC applicants will have to pay to obtain prerequisite documentation weighs disproportionately on those living in poverty. Moreover, while a 200 to 250 mile trip to and from a DPS office would be a heavy burden for any prospective voter, such a journey would be especially daunting for the working poor. Poorer citizens, especially those working for hourly wages, will likely be less able to take time off work to travel to a DPS office—a problem exacerbated by the fact that wait times in DPS offices can be as long as three hours during busy months of the year. US Ex. 10 at 1. This concern is especially serious given that none of Texas’s DPS offices are open on weekends or past 6:00 PM, eliminating for many working people the option of obtaining an EIC on their own time. See U.S. Ex. 361. A law that forces poorer citizens to choose between their wages and their franchise unquestionably denies or abridges their right to vote.
In both cases, the small number of ID offices, their inconvenient hours, and the lines (See Ari Berman’s picture of one in Philadelphia) impose too high a cost on franchise. As a result, Republicans won’t (in TX) and probably won’t (in PA) be permitted to suppress the vote as they had wanted to this November.
Of course, the underlying problem is that states have cut back on services to the point where Republicans can’t even disenfranchise people efficiently enough under the law.
This is not over yet–the judge in PA can still certify an inadequate DOT network hunky dory in PA.
But for the moment it appears Mitt’s disenfranchisement is being drowned in Grover Norquist’s bathtub.