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Florida's greatest election SNAFUs

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Nov. 8, 2012 at 3:28 PM   |   Comments

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Nov. 8 (UPI) -- When word of problems in voting began to surface out of Florida, no one was exactly surprised. The Sunshine State has a reputation of making it harder for voters to cast their ballots, and then royally screwing up the tallying after the fact.

As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, although votes were still being tallied, Mitt Romney conceded Florida, officially bringing to an end the 2012 presidential election. According to the Miami Herald, a spokesman for the challengers campaign admitted that there simply weren't enough outstanding votes for Romney to overcome President Obama's small but resilient lead.

"We thought based on our polling and range of organization that we had done what we needed to win," Brett Doster, Florida adviser for Romney, told the Herald. "Obviously, we didn’t, and for that I and every other operative in Florida has a sick feeling that we left something on the table. I can assure you this won’t happen again.”

Here are some of Florida's greatest election fiasco hits:

5. Restricted early voting

As the 2012 election got underway, voters complained of huge lines and hours-long wait times, thanks to restricted early voting hours ahead of election day. The Florida legislature reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to just eight this year. Among the cuts was the final Sunday before the election.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott refused to expand hours, but Miami-Dade, one of the most populous in the state, tried to alleviate some of the frustration by allowing voters to return absentee ballots early and in person. A few other counties were able to add some early voting back in on Sunday.

Chuck Radoy, from Boynton Beach reviews his sample ballot while waiting on line during the first day of early voting at the public library at the Delray Beach, early voting station, Delray Beach, Florida, October 27, 2012. Floridians can early vote starting Saturday October 27 through November 3, 2012 from 7A.M. to 7P.M. daily. UPI/Gary I Rothstein.
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4. Ballot purging

The state and the U.S. justice department battled over efforts by election officials to purge voter rolls of non-citizens. Florida had been using an outdated database maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, and as a result, had misidentified people who were eligible and properly registered as ineligible. Critics of Florida's efforts pointed out that the purges disproportionately targeted minorities and other groups likely to vote Democratic.

3. Butterfly ballots

TAL2000120296 - 02 DECEMBER 2000 - TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA, USA: Fred Bartlet, attorney for George W. Bush, left, listens as his first witness, Judge Charles Burton, looks at an overhead projection of a butterfly ballot Saturday in N. Sanders Sauls courtroom in Tallahassee, Florida on December 2, 2000. bc/cl/Pool Photo/Craig Litten/The Tallahassee Democrat UPI
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In 2000, the Democratic-leaning Palm Beach county used a "butterfly ballot," which cost Former Vice President Al Gore more than 6,600 votes--and probably the state and thus the presidency--when review found more than one name had been marked. The layout of the ballot was confusing, and a significant number of voters accidentally invalidated their ballots by punching chads that weren't clearly on one candidate or another.

Although George W. Bush also lost some ballots--about 1,600--the issue clearly hurt Gore.

2. Hanging chads

More punch card problems wrecked havoc on Florida's 2000 election outcome when infamous "hanging chads" made voters intentions unclear. The question at hand: should an incompletely punched ballot--leaving the paper "chad" hanging or even bulging, count as a vote? Could a voter's intent be determined?

The uncertainty over those disputed ballots narrowed Bush's lead in Florida enough to automatically triggered...

1. The Recount

All of the questions and irregularities of ballots and a razor-thin margin between Bush and Gore landed the election in court. We may never know for sure which candidate truly "should" have won, because, although the Florida Supreme Court ordered a full recount of the legal votes--but was halted by the United States Supreme Court in the infamous case, Bush v. Gore, essentially calling the questionable votes uncountable within the time limit, and delivering the state--and the presidency--to Bush.

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Election Day
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TAL2000120296 - 02 DECEMBER 2000 - TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA, USA: Fred Bartlet, attorney for George W. Bush, left, listens as his first witness, Judge Charles Burton, looks at an overhead projection of a butterfly ballot Saturday in N. Sanders Sauls courtroom in Tallahassee, Florida on December 2, 2000. bc/cl/Pool Photo/Craig Litten/The Tallahassee Democrat UPIPresident Barack Obama smiles after giving his victory speech at his election night event in Chicago on November 6, 2012. President Obama won re-election over Republican candidate Mitt Romney. UPI/Brian Kersey
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