Florida leaves US waiting for its election results - again
There are no hanging chads or butterfly ballots this time around. But a dozen years after the 2000 presidential vote-count debacle, Florida once again has left the United States waiting for its election results.
By yesterday evening, Barack Obama was leading by 4,173,275 votes to Mr Romney’s 4,120,025 votes; a difference of roughly 53,250.
If Mr Obama maintains that lead, he will be declared the winner and there will probably not be a recount. A final winner was expected to be announced late last night.
Unlike the Bush versus Gore presidential contest – when the country’s attention hung on hanging chads – Florida’s choice this year is regarded as an afterthought given that Mr Obama’s lead in unassailable.
An analyst said part of the reason for the delay in counting the votes was a 2011 move by the Republican-controlled Florida legislature to reduce the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, including the final Sunday before election day.
With fewer early voting days available, many voters were left waiting hours in line, particularly in the most Democratic parts of the state.
In addition, the legislature placed 11 complex proposed amendments on the ballot, which meant the act of voting was more time-consuming than normal.
As if to complicate matters further, several counties in Florida agreed in the days before the election to allow voters to request and complete absentee ballots in person at an elections office following legal action by Democrats.
Local officials say the state has modernised its voting systems since 2000, but some observers say it remains plagued by poor management, lack of capacity and systemic dysfunction.
While the systems tended to work in most counties, they failed in the biggest ones where the population was large and diverse.
Charles Stewart of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an expert on elections, pointed out that Florida’s vote was run by supervisors who were, in most cases, elected officials rather than professionals.