Limiting Voters in Florida…Long Lines and Signatures of Stroke Victims

Thursday, January 03, 2013
Waiting to vote in Florida (photo: Pedro Portal, AP, El Nuevo Herald)

The ballots of more than 50,000 voters in Florida were not part of the final tally in this year’s election due to long precinct lines and arbitrary disqualifications.


The biggest problem occurred on Election Day, which stretched late into the night at many Central Florida voting places. In some cases, polls were open until 11 pm—four hours past the mandated closure time of 7 pm—because of long, slow-moving lines of people waiting to vote.


According to election officials, the reasons for the long lines—some of which stretched for blocks—included lengthy ballots, heavy voter turnout, and reduced early voting days.


Theodore Allen, a professor from Ohio State University, estimated that as many as 49,000 Floridians were discouraged from voting because of the long waits.


The majority of these discouraged voters, about 30,000, would likely have backed President Barack Obama, according to Allen. The remainder would probably have supported Republican Mitt Romney.


This analysis means Obama’s margin over Romney could have been roughly 11,000 votes higher than it was—in a state the president won by 74,309 votes out of more than 8.4 million cast.


Other voters in Florida, about 1,400, had their ballots thrown out by elections officials. The reason: their signatures on the ballots didn’t match those on file in the election office.


Those impacted by this snafu included an elderly woman, Elizabeth McWhite, whose votes weren’t counted because her signature had changed following several strokes that disabled her right hand.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Researcher: Long Lines at Polls Caused 49,000 Not to Vote (by  David Damron and Scott Powers, Orlando Sentinel)

1,400 Absentee Ballots Rejected for Bad Signatures in Central Florida (by Scott Powers and David Damron, Orlando Sentinel)

Florida Voting: Like ‘a Third-World Country’ (by Juliet Lapidos, New York Times)

Former Republican Officials Admit to Voter Suppression Efforts and “Marketing Ploy” to Damage Democrats (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Federal Courts Versus Republican Efforts to Limit Voting: Florida (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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