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Broward Voters Say Problems Must Be Corrected

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Many voters in Broward County will remember Election Day 2012 for long lines, not enough ballots and a majority of precincts that only had one ballot scanning machine, which many said led to lengthy backups.

It also led to late nights for many voters determined to cast their ballot. The last voter at a polling place in Weston voted at 9 pm. The last voters at a Tamarac precinct walked out around 10 pm.

In Miramar, a truckload of extra ballots arrived at almost 7 o'clock after voters said the polling place ran out. Voters couldn't believe the ballots arrived as the polls were supposed to close.

"Hello, how come they were not prepared?" asked Ivan Frakas. "They know precinct 27 (in Miramar) is a very highly populated area."

As voters throughout the county waited on line for hours they speculated about the reasons for the long waits.

Some voters in Lauderhill watched poll workers drop off extra voting booths. Voters in Pembroke Pines and Coral Springs watched election workers drop off extra ballots after polling places ran out of ballots. Some wondered why each precinct only had one scanning machine…which backed up some precincts for more than an hour.

"An hour wait to scan (a ballot)?" said Holly Bauer. "That's bad. That's bad."

Elections Spokesperson Mary Cooney told CBS 4's Carey Codd that it is standard procedure to have only one scanning machine at each precinct.

"We don't have that type of equipment" to have multiple scanners at precincts, Cooner said. However, Cooney said an extra scanner was sent to a polling place in Coconut Creek due to heavy turnout.

At Millennium Middle School in Tamarac, voters said the problem was voting booths. Specifically, not enough for the hundreds of people who wanted to vote.

A voter told CBS4 News that for most of the day there were only 4 booths. Voters who left the precinct late said eventually extra booths were brought in but not enough.

"It could have been planned out a lot better," said Lauren Erhardt. "There was a lot of room to put a lot more booths."

But while some waited to vote, others didn't.

"Very quick, amazing," said Jan Gentile. "It was 15 minutes."

Many voters said they didn't mind.

"We have nothing but time down here how are you going to complain?" said Ron Donatelli.

Many felt there is room for improvement in the way precincts are staffed and equipment allocated.

Others said elections officials did their best and could not be blamed if more voters wanted to vote than they anticipated.

"If there's an enormous number of people that show up and they just don't have enough ballots it's hard to fault them for that," said Richard Fleet.

And turnout appears to be a main part of the story. Elections Spokesperson Cooney said Broward was possibly looking at record turnout.

"Turnout is more than we might have expected," she said.

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