All Eyes On Fla. To Finally Get It Right

Florida 2000 elections ballot chad flag state CBS/AP

Floridians are still stinging from the notorious 2000 presidential election: 36-straight days of confusion over hanging chads and dimpled ballots.

Lawmakers promised improvements after nearly 180,000 votes were uncounted.

But, as CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts reports, two years later -- during September's Democratic primary -- voting machines didn't work. Poll workers didn't show up. Even gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno had to wait hours to vote.

"Frankly, I want to know what the hell have they been doing for the past two years?" asks Florida's Secretary of State Jim Smith.

It's a question that may be answered Tuesday. Punch cards have since been outlawed and Florida has spent $100 million on training and new voting machines including touch screens on which voters get to choose between English, Spanish and Creole.

The trilingual voting machines are billed as easier to operate than your microwave at home. And they've been designed to bring up an error message if the voter hits two options at the same time.

When asked if Dade County can get it right this time, elections supervisor David Leahy says, "Absolutely, Nov. 5 will be a perfect election."

But not everyone is so confident.

"It could be another black eye for south Florida," says Tom Fiedler, executive editor of the Miami Herald.

Fiedler says there are nearly 500,000 voters in Broward and Miami-Dade County alone and about 5,000 voting machines.

"By the time you do the math, the lines are going to be so long there will be two or three hour waits at some precincts," Fiedler says. "A lot of people will give up in disgust."

But while Florida in general and south Florida in particular have become the poster children for poorly run elections, it isn't the only one with issues this Tuesday.

Nationwide in 2000, when it came to the percentage of uncounted votes, seven states did worse than Florida, which posted 2.93 percent. Indiana had 3.18 percent, New Jersey 3.24, South Carolina 3.51, North Carolina 3.54, Wyoming 3.59, Illinois 3.85 and Georgia 3.99.

Georgia has spent millions in advertising, education and equipment to improve its election results.

But on Tuesday, all eyes will be on Florida to get it right or get it wrong for a third straight election.

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