Florida election results are finally in after a long, grueling few days of counting absentee ballots. Republican candidate Mitt Romney's campaign conceded on Thursday afternoon that President Barack Obama won the state of Florida despite numbers that were previously too close to call.
"The numbers in Florida show this was winnable," Romney adviser Brett Doster said in a statement, "We thought based on our polling and range of organization that we had done what we needed to win. Obviously, we didn't, and for that I and every other operative in Florida has a sick feeling that we left something on the table. I can assure you this won't happen again."
The president also carried Florida, which has 29 electoral votes, in his campaign against Republican nominee John McCain in 2008.
The concession came once Miami-Dade officials said early this afternoon that they had finished counting all the absentee ballots. "We're done," elections department spokeswoman Christina White said, after Miami-Dade elections workers stayed up all night last night to count the final group of 500 absentee ballots.
Much to the frustration of Florida residents, endlessly long lines coupled with high absentee-ballot numbers have made tallying the state votes a lengthy and arduous process, preventing pundits from declaring a winner in a race that was reportedly way too close to call on Tuesday night.
An influx of 54,000 absentee ballots cast at the last minute on Election Day caused a longer-than-expected delay in tallying final results for the large county of Miami-Dade. Though Barack Obama was declared the winner of the electoral vote at around 11:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday night, the lingering questions in Florida frayed the nerves of many state residents.
The two-day delay seemed small to some observers in other states, but it caused no end of grief in a state that has been plagued time and time again by reports of voter suppression, voter fraud and, of course, recounts in the Bush-Gore fiasco of 2000.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez admits that many of the polling sites were disorganized and ineffective, calling the long lines "inexcusable.''
"Obviously we didn't do something right in those precincts,''Gimenez said. "It's not the way we should treat our citizens.''
The now-former Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, who just lost on Tuesday, said elections supervisors should have had a better plan in place. "It's the perfect storm. It was a combination of everything: high voter turnout, some machines not working properly, trouble finding people on the vote rolls,'' he said. "You should have been prepared for it because we went through this already with Obama in 2008.''
"The big picture is that we have done this to ourselves," Broward County Mayor John Rodstrom, a Democrat, said. "It's symptomatic of the fact that we are now moving city elections and city items to a regular [November] election. We have these tremendously long ballots now."
Based on multiple reports throughout the state problems popped up everywhere. Whether it was long lines, faulty machines or power outages, issues surfaced in a large majority of polling places. Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington even started crying when she apologized for the delays.
As of late afternoon Wednesday, Barack Obama had a total of 60,367,866 votes, making up 50.4 percent of the popular vote. Mitt Romney was close behind with 57,572,736 votes, or 48.1 percent of the popular vote.
"Lines were so long in some polling places, that the last voter did not leave the West Kendall Regional Library until a few minutes after 1 A.M. At 10:50 p.m., 90 percent of the precincts had closed in Miami-Dade," the Miami Herald reported.
"That meant that at least 80 precincts were still plagued by lines four hours after the polls closed, as people waited six hours or longer to cast their ballots."
At the University of Central Florida in Orlando, many students were still waiting in line at midnight, according to The Sun-Sentinel. "People were getting very aggravated," Nikki Tarquinio told the newspaper. "People were hot and thirsty. No indication was given how long it would be."