Florida election results were still not fully tabulated as of 11:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, despite the fact that Mitt Romney conceded the race on Thursday afternoon. Palm Beach County did its part to help state officials finish the job. At 4:45 a.m. on Saturday Palm Beach County election officials completed the process of going through thousands of absentee and provisional ballots.
After four long, grueling days of counting absentee and provisional ballots, election officials are nearing the finish line. The state issued a 12 p.m. Saturday deadline to all counties, which has meant many red-eyed workers pulling all-nighters to get the job done. "It's good," Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said. "We worked hard for it."
On Friday afternoon, Barack Obama only had a small lead over Mitt Romney by about 60,000 votes out of 8.4 million cast in Florida. The margin is so slim that state officials decided they will not officially announce a winner until Nov. 20, which only caused more frustration among residents who feel like they've becoming the running joke as the only state in the nation that hasn't yet declared a winner in the presidential race.
"We're not going to call the race at any point until we actually certify the results [on Nov. 20]," Florida Department of State spokesman Chris Cate said. "We'll keep reporting results and let the media do the calling of the race. But I think the best indicator that we can give will be on Saturday when we either order a recount or if we don't. If we don't order a recount on Saturday, then I think that will be the best indicator that we can give as to who will be the ultimate winner when we certify the results."
Cate's announcement threw fuel to a fire that has been building throughout the state this week. After waiting on exceedingly long lines and filling out ballots that continued for ten pages, Floridians are furious.
Thousands of residents have sent virulent emails to Gov. Rick Scott complaining and vowing not to vote for him in the 2016 election. But Scott defended the state on Friday. "What I'm trying to do is improve the way government works," Scott told The Miami Herald. "I believe in efficiency. I believe every vote has to count. I want to have a good process that people feel good about."
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez admitted 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 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.''
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."