Final election results in key Florida county delayed

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 07, 2012 12:23 AM

MIAMI (Reuters) - Final election results from Florida's Miami-Dade County, which accounts for about 10 percent of the crucial swing state's registered voters, will not be available until Wednesday afternoon, a senior election official said late on Tuesday.

Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley told reporters the delay was due to "an extremely high volume of absentee ballots in this election" and because a handful of precincts had people waiting to vote after 10 p.m. EST (0300 GMT Wednesday).

A Reuters reporter estimated that some 50 people were still waiting to cast ballots at one precinct in southwest Miami at 11:30 p.m. EST (0430 GMT).

Blame for long lines has centered largely on a complicated 10-page ballot, which included 11 constitutional amendments drafted by the state's Republican-controlled legislature.

"We anticipate concluding the counting tomorrow afternoon," Townsley said.

Preliminary results as of late Tuesday night had Obama with a 50,000 lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, out of almost 8 million ballots cast in the state. Florida is the biggest prize among key battleground states and determines 29 of the 270 electoral college votes candidates need to win the White House.

Most recent polls had given Romney an edge over the incumbent, Barack Obama, in Florida, where the economic recovery has been slower than in other states and long-term unemployment has reached record highs.

Complaints about voting procedures, long lines to cast ballots, restrictions on early voting and some possible irregularities have been heard repeatedly across Florida. So far, however, there have been no claims of anything widespread or problematic enough to cast doubt on the credibility of the Florida outcome.

The office of the Florida Secretary of State, which is responsible for organizing statewide elections, says Florida law requires an automatic recount if the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent after all votes have been counted.

Florida propelled former President George W. Bush to a wafer-thin victory in 2000, when it introduced the terms "hanging chads" and "butterfly ballots" to the masses during the state's historic voting debacle.

(Reporting by Tom Brown, additional reporting by Deborah Charles and Zachary Fagenson; Editing by Jim Loney and Leslie Gevirtz)