Voters in Broward County discovered long lines on Election Day, especially at Winston Park Elementary in Coconut Creek, which only had one scanner. Voters Beth Mancebo, Rick Thomas and John Burns talked about their experience. Elsewhere in Coconut Creek, voter David Raphael waited two hours in the wrong line.
Election Day voting went fast and easy for some South Floridians while other voters waited hours in line and complained of malfunctioning machines and broken scanners.
At Chapel Trail Elementary School in Pembroke Pines, voting got off to a rough start after a scanner for one of three precincts voting there died moments after the doors opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Residents who had already voted handed their filled-out ballots to staffers, who placed the ballots in a bag.
"They said, ‘Just trust us, that [our unscanned ballots] will be done at the end of the night,'" Debbie White-Maynes said of election staff.
White-Maynes continued: "It doesn't sit well with me, because it really strains the confidence I have in the voting process. It should be a smoother process, and we should be made to feel confident that our vote is going to count."
Polls Open in South Florida for Election Day 2012
Mary Cooney, a spokeswoman for Broward County’s Supervisor of Elections Office, said a scanner did go out at the polling site but said it was replaced. She said that when scanners malfunction, the office’s procedure is to place them in a sealed bag, then in a second sealed bag. At the end of the night, those ballots are the first ones counted, she said.
Polls were scheduled to close at 7 p.m. Tuesday. But hundreds of South Floridians who were in line by 7 p.m. were allowed to stay after hours until their ballots were cast.
Cooney on Tuesday afternoon said that overall, voting in Broward County had gone smoothly, with the exception of issues that surface every election. “We had replaced a number of scanners, because they were jamming but that happens in every election and it’s not problematic at all,” she said.
Some voters at Chapel Trail Elementary complained of a frustrating experience, saying they thought poll workers were unprepared. They said staff didn't explain the holdup and said many voters left the line, not wanting to wait longer.
At Rick Case Hyundai in Broward, people were frustrated when ballots ran out, but new ones were brought in. Cooney said when supplies start to run low at polling sites, election workers make arrangements for their ballot inventory to be replenished. Cooney said the office fielded "a lot of supply calls" Tuesday.
At Pine Island Park in Davie, six precincts were voting at one building. At one point, one of two voting machines for a precinct broke, clogging lines. A new machine was brought in. It helped get voting back to speed.
In Miami-Dade County, a broken scanner caused a delay at the Greynolds Park Elementary precinct in North Miami Beach. The delay caused a delay of nearly an hour as a new scanner was brought in. Voters were given the choice of dropping their ballot in a box and having it counted later. Most chose to wait it out and have it counted on the spot.
At Miami-Dade Elections Department in Doral, voters said computers crashed shortly after the doors opened to accept absentee ballots. The computers were operating again within about 20 minutes.
In Hialeah, at a polling place on East Eighth Avenue and 43rd Street, voters reported scanner issues and wait times between two to three hours. Some said they though having two precincts voting at the location was confusing.
"Today was a little long, I spent like three hours in this whole thing and as soon as I got into the line over there, they put me in the wrong line. They're not organized," Paul Onate said. "I stood in the line for 45 minutes longer, then once I got to the unit they reset it five times. So it's just been a challenging day but at least I got my vote through and that's what's important."