Broward approaches ballot deadline

Miami-Dade finishes counting ballots Thursday

Published On: Nov 08 2012 10:27:52 AM EST   Updated On: Nov 09 2012 12:47:31 AM EST
DORAL, Fla. -

Broward County finished counting absentee ballots around 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, more than two days after voting ended.

Officials told Local 10's Christina Vasquez they planned to switch their focus to provisional ballots. By noon Saturday, all ballots must be verified.

"I want to make sure every voter knows we did everything possible to make sure the election results are accurate and complete, and a lot of voters would want to add to that efficient. I would agree with that one," said County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman.

The Broward Supervisor of Election's Office said Thursday afternoon they had about 4,500 provisional ballots that still needed to be processed. At the time, there were 8,000 absentee ballots left for workers to count.

"Very busy. Just counting the ballots and sorting them," said Jerry Berger, one of the people sorting the ballots. "Well, we've kind of gotten used to Florida being the laughingstock but it'll happen."

Miami-Dade one of 16 counties to finish processing provisional ballots

The Miami-Dade Elections Department finished counting absentee ballots Thursday afternoon.

"Our results have been submitted to the state," said Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley.

Elections official Carolina Lopez told Vasquez Miami-Dade County has joined the 16 out of 67 Florida counties that have completed processing provisional ballots.

According to Lopez, Miami-Dade accepted a third of provisional ballots cast as valid.

Townsley defended her operation, telling Local 10's Christina Vasquez she is proud of the county's job.

"Generally, I think Miami-Dade County conducted a very good election. Am I embarrassed or disappointed by some of the things that happened? Absolutely," Townsley said.

WATCH: Townsley holds news conference

The elections department had to sort, count, and verify 241,000 absentee ballots, including 30,000 that were dropped off Tuesday. With a five page ballot, it meant more that 1.2 million pages that had to be processed by hand.

"This election really establishes the consequences of paper in Miami-Dade County. So, we had the long volume to deal with," said Townsley.

Because several counties in Florida were still calculating ballots, Florida remains the only state in the nation that has yet to turn blue or red. When asked about how Florida became the butt of jokes about the state's election process, Townsley said she was proud of how the county conducts elections.

"The incidences that occurred in this election are unfortunate but the fact of the matter is we will use those lessons to improve upon already a very good process," said Townsley.

But Election Day saw problems in Miami-Dade County. In Brickell, some voters waited in line for seven hours before voting.

"We will do a very comprehensive analysis of the activities that took place in this election," said Townsley. "We know that there are opportunities to improve the facilities and the sizes of the facilities that we have to use on Election Day."

Townsley added that an after action report would be made about every precinct in the county.

"There is a staffing methodology and I'm satisfied with that methodology. The turnout was something that caused us to have to deploy additional resources, additional equipment, and we will learn from those lessons," said Townsley.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez apologized to voters who waited in long lines to cast their ballots.

"I certainly wasn't happy. I personally went to the Brickell district, saw what was happening, and felt that it was an issue of understaffing," Gimenez said Wednesday. "We're not perfect but we're going to do our best to rectify for next time."

"I am the Supervisor of Elections and I am responsible for all activities. Obviously, I have a staff to support me in ensuring things are managed in an efficient manner, and we will be looking into those issues and we will be making the improvements that are necessary," said Townsley.