The citizens of Florida have been the brunt of harsh criticism and jokes from political analysts, television personalities, their friends and family from all around the country. There is so much outrage at our election system and our use of paper ballots. All of the remaining 49 states have their election’s process free of such back logs and imperfections. Yes, voter suppression exist in probably all of these states, but our issues in Florida appear to be far greater than the issues that other states have concerning Voter’s Rights. We have cases of voter suppression, missing ballots, inoperable ballot counting machines, stacks and stacks of provisional ballots that must be counted one by one. The paper ballots, some opponents argue, must go. They believe the touchscreen computer ballots work much better and are more efficient. It’s believed that they also help eliminate fraud and other crimes that occur during elections.
The lawyers at the law firm of Berman and Tsombanakis represent clients all over the effected counties of Broward and Miami Dade. Our clients, as well as the citizens of these counties and counties all across the state, are concerned about our election’s process. They want measures in place to assure that there votes are being counted. They want to know that the votes that they cast on election day make a difference. They do not want their ballots merely sitting in the corner, marked as an invalid provisional ballot, an absent-absentee ballot or a ballot that is overlooked and left in a warehouse.
As we look ahead to the local elections next year, as well as our election for Governor of Florida in 2014, every concerned citizen will ask the following questions: What changes will be made to combat the current problems with our election process? By the 2016 Presidential Election which very well could be larger than this last election, will we be ready and equipped with an efficient election system statewide? What is the future of the election process in Florida? What changes will our politicians make to ensure that what happen in 2000 and 2012 will never happen again. What is future of absentee ballots in Florida and should restrictions be placed upon whom may request an absentee ballot?
At the close of election week, once again, Florida was the lone yellow state. Social media as well as other media outlets began to rip apart our election’s process. Why can’t Florida get things right, many wonder. We were left counting ballots well after the election and we are still counting them. This election drew some sad, yet true similarities to the 2000 election. The major difference this time is that President Obama clinched his victory even though our ballots were still being counted. Whereas in 2000, the Bush vs.Gore saga went all the way to the Supreme Court and is still filled with what ifs, and questions regarding the outcome of all of the lawsuits that were filed challenging the election results in Florida.
Last week there were thousands of absentee ballots that were not counted the morning after the election. There were also many provisional ballots that remained uncounted as well. The election supervisors in both counties blamed staffing issues and the decrease in early voting days from 14 in 2008 to 7 days this year, as the main culprit for polling place issues and delays in ballot calculations. Some voters in Miami-Dade blamed the length of the ballots. In some parts of the county the ballots were 12 pages long and contained very detailed and confusing GOP lead amendments. Proponents of the amendments and ballots have stated that the citizens were given sample ballots and the full amendments were made available online weeks before the election. Many of Florida’s residents complained that they did not understand the amendments. Even individuals with advanced degrees had complaints about the amendments and the ballots length in general. Some opponents argued that this was a ploy to deter voters from coming to the polls, but from the long lines, that was not the case
To add insult to injury, some citizens in Miami Dade county were still in line when CNN declared that President Obama had been projected the winner and re-elected President of the United States of America. Some voters reported little to no wait in line during certain times of the day and at those same times, other voters reported 4-6 hour wait times. Voters turned out in record numbers. The record numbers, the increase in absentee ballots and the decrease in early election days and lastly understaffed polls are believed to be the reasons for the delayed results.
Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley of Miami-Dade County, acknowledged that mistakes had been made in the election’s process. She spoke live to the media a couple of days after the election and stated that election’s workers were still counting ballots by use of the scanning machines. This is a process that can be tedious and time consuming, but it is one that is necessary, given our current system. This process is used for all absentee ballots, ballots that contain errors and for provision ballots. The Wednesday after the election, the county had 20,000 absentee ballots that still needed counting. The office of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a news release stating in part that an “unprecedented length of the ballot” represents “over 100,000 pages that need to be reviewed and verified, one by one.
As of Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Broward County still has ballots that need counting and these ballots may affect the outcome of local elections in the City of Dania Beach. A stack of ballots that were found this past Sunday and according to the elections office they were not “lost”, they were “just in area where they were not suppose to be.” This stack of nearly 1000 ballots were found while elections officials were doing there routine sweep (check) to make sure that all ballots were accounted for. These ballots were found in a warehouse and according to election officials, they were put in the wrong place. Of the missing ballots, 798 had been cast on election day and the other 165 were absentee ballots. The Supervisor of Elections stated that it is common to find ballots and to still have ballots that need counting, leading up to the election certification date of November 18.
So as we look forward to the future of voting in Florida, will Florida move from paper ballots to computer-touchscreen ballots. The computer-touchscreen ballots have proven to be very effective in many states. Even with the use of computer ballots, the issue of the over used absentee ballot remains. This year more absentee ballots were used than ever before. There was a time when they were used only if you were going to be out of the state or country and for individuals who are sick or handicapped, The over use of absentee ballots during this election has led to a back log in the system as well. Only time will tell what the future of Florida elections will be, but let us always remember to be thankful for this Right to Vote and to ALWAYS EXERCISE OUR RIGHT!!!!
If you or a family member have been a victim of voter suppression or arrested for a crime related to voter suppression or any crime, anywhere in Broward County, Miami-Dade County, or Palm Beach County, please email or call one of the lawyers at the Criminal Defense Law Firm of Berman & Tsombanakis LLC. at (954) 764-6099 or (954) 728-8885. We will be happy to discuss your case with you at length and chart the best course of action and put forth the best and/or most aggressive legal defense for you.