Florida remains the only state that has yet to declare its presidential winner in the already decided presidential election. Two days have passed since President Barack Obama won re-election, and Florida is still counting votes. Florida has earned a bad reputation since the Bush v. Gore election in 2000.
Some blame the delay on an unexpectedly high number of absentee ballots and a complex 10-page ballot which included eleven proposed state constitutional amendments. Others blame Governor Rick Scott’s decision to shorten the early voting period from 14 days to just 8 days, which cut out voting on Sunday, two days before the election. One of state’s biggest election day problems were the long lines. Voters in Miami-Dade stood in line for hours upon hours. Some voters did not cast their ballot until 1:30am on election day – after Mitt Romney had already conceded the election.
Meanwhile, in Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties, Republican Rep. Allen West has filed a lawsuit requesting that voting equipment and ballots be impounded for possible recount in the race for Florida’s 22nd District. Despite a 2,456 lead by his Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, West refuses to concede the election.
Under Florida law, if the final margin of total votes falls within .5 percent, a recount could be triggered. Although Rep. Allen West will likely not receive a recount, Mitt Romney could very well qualify for a recount in Florida. According to the Florida Division of Elections, as of Wednesday evening, President Obama had 49.87 percent of the statewide vote versus 49.27 percent for Mitt Romney, with just 49,963 votes separating them. However, at this stage, a recount would simply be a waste of taxpayer money. Romney would likely decline a recount.
Twelve years ago, it was hanging chads. Now, it appears that the hang-ups are due to poor preparation and voting administration. Every county in Florida must report their unofficial results to the Florida Secretary of State by Saturday at noon. Yet again, all eyes are on Florida.
Aaron Watson is an associate attorney at Levin Papantonio. Mr. Watson has served as president for the Black Law Students Association at Stetson, interned with the United States Department of Justice, and volunteered with the Florida Attorney General’s office. He was selected for the Stallworth Trial Team Award by faculty, named to Who’s Who Among American Universities & Colleges, and was inducted into The National Order of Barristers. Mr. Watson currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice. He also serves on the board of directors for the Florida Justice Association
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