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Election Day Lines Blamed On Long Ballot In Broward

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Elections workers in Broward County continue to count what they believe is a remaining 30,000 absentee ballots at the Lauderhill Equipment Center. Despite that, the State Department of Elections is reporting that 725,000 registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday's election in Broward, marking a 64 percent turnout.

Many voters said they were annoyed by what they perceived as a lack of planning by the elections department.  They pointed out that some precincts ran out of ballots, there were not enough voting booths and a majority of the precincts that only had one ballot scanning machine which led to lengthy backups.

When asked why the Elections Department didn't over prepare, Broward's Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes replied, "We usually do, we usually do. Yesterday, we had some areas where we had to get ballots there, where we had planned extra, that's how we had the ballots to take."

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."

Many voters stood in line for hours determined to cast their ballot. The last voter at a polling place in Weston voted at 9 p.m. The last voters at a Tamarac precinct walked out around 10 p.m.

The cause for the delays varied by precinct polling station but many voters complained about not enough scanning machines.

"We usually have one scanning machine but we had a four page ballot which contributed to longer lines at the scanner," said Dr. Snipes.

In some cases, that one machine at each precinct backed up lines for more than an hour.

"There are lines everywhere and I think that's a healthy sign of involvement. So we want to get people through as fast as we can," said Dr. Snipes.

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

Broward's election department spokeswoman Mary Cooney said 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," Cooney said.

However, Cooney said an extra scanner was sent to a polling place in Coconut Creek due to heavy turnout.

So did the turnout in Broward exceed past elections?

"I think it did yesterday, there certainly was a lot more activity than I thought there would be," said Dr. Snipes.

Elections officials said it's nearly impossible to predict how many people will cast ballots.

"We don't put an election together to torture people by having them stand in line," said Broward's Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes.  "Sometimes the volume increases.  Remember elections are not a perfect science, there is no way to know how many people are going to show up."

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."

The final counting of the absentee ballots should be complete by the end of the day.

Provisional ballots will be counted Thursday.


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