Early US voting leads to lines, lawsuit

2012-11-05 08:12

Miami - Florida, famous for the presidential election debacle 12 years ago which required the hand-counting of thousands of ballots, is facing new election-related problems ahead of Tuesday's White House vote.

The state's Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit on Sunday over long delays encountered by some voters who were unable to cast votes in southern Florida despite spending hours in line.

The controversy erupted over "in person absentee ballots" that officials in Miami Dade County said voters would be allowed to cast on Sunday from 13:00 17:00.

The state's Republican governor, Rick Scott, signed a law last year reducing the number of early voting days from 14 to eight and eliminating early voting on the Sunday before election day. Early voting officially ended in the state late on Saturday.

On Sunday, voters in southern Florida's Miami-Dade County received word that they would be allowed to cast absentee ballots in person.

But after being open for barely an hour, the Miami-Dade office closed its doors around 14:00, saying they were swamped by the unexpected high turnout.

'This is not a third-world country'

The decision to cut short the vote led to an uproar outside the government office, where the Miami Herald reported nearly 200 people began shouting, "We want to vote!" "Let us vote!"

"This is America, not a third-world country," Myrna Peralta told the daily.

Peralta said she had been waiting in line with her 4-year-old grandson for nearly two hours before being turned away.

"They should have been prepared," Peralta said, venting her anger over the election organisers, according to the Florida daily.

The lawsuit file by Democrats asks a judge to compel three southern Florida counties to allow in-person absentee voting not only in Miami-Dade, but in two other counties, Palm Beach and Broward.

Florida is arguably the king of swing states, with around 29 electoral college votes up for grabs - more than any other of the closely-contested "battleground" states that vacillate between Republican and Democratic control and which ultimately will decide the election outcome.

Voter suppression

Since last week, almost 4.5 million people have cast early ballots in Florida ahead of the official election day on Tuesday, when the majority of voting Americans will formally vote for either the Democratic president, Barack Obama, or his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

Florida is especially critical to Romney's election prospects, and pundits say he must win the state if he is to defeat Obama.

Critics condemned the confusion as the latest in a so-called "voter suppression" campaign underway in several states aimed at discouraging Democrats from casting ballots.

In general, Democrats favour early voting, so limiting the number of people who vote ahead of the official 6 November election is seen as putting a thumb on the scale for Romney.

A judge in the central Florida city of Orlando on Sunday however ordered early voting to be extended in Orange County by several hours to accommodate the flood of voters.

Voting problems in the 2000 presidential election were mainly related to antiquated paper punch ballots which in some cases left vote counters uncertain as to the voters' intentions, and required that thousands of ballots be manually examined.

That election pitted Democratic Vice President Al Gore against Texas Republican Governor George W Bush - who won when a divided US Supreme Court intervened to halt a ballot recount while he had a narrow lead over Gore.

  • punungwe - 2012-11-05 08:23

    They are rigging!!! They are rigging!! Isn't that what we would say in Africa is people were unable to vote after spending a long time in the queue

      Caroline Nyokong - 2012-11-05 08:49

      I'm South African,I believe that each an every vote is important they count,so they must let everyone to vote freely and fair.

  • michael.hicks.1029 - 2012-11-05 08:48

    I know with all the lies and flip flops Romney/Ryan are counting on uninformed voters ( never dreamed they would get this much support). For a man that got rich outsourcing our jobs and doesn't believe the rich need to pay taxes it falls in line with those trying to buy him the election. Romney's style of business experience is what got us here in the first place. Wake up America, do some research and see who this man really is and look at who's trying to buy the election for him. More of the agenda of Big Oil, Big Banks and Wall street is the last thing we need after what we have been through. Here is a video showing some of Romney's flip flops Here is a video showing some of Romney's lies Every vote is going to count this time.

  • ryno.warwick - 2012-11-05 08:50

    With the Republicans i wouldn't be surprised if they were trying to Rig.

  • michael.i.wright - 2012-11-05 10:56

    So eager to vote which party will race to the bottom fastest.

  • pages:
  • 1