Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In 2000, Florida became the punch line of jokes everywhere after having problems with a one-page punch card ballot. This year, Florida’s ballot was as long as 12 pages in some parts of the state which spelled disaster heading into Tuesday.
But as Florida fumbled its way through another presidential election, the country moved on without it. For the first time in a presidential election since 2000, Florida became largely irrelevant to determining who would become the President of the United States.
“After this election, Florida is worse than a laughingstock,” filmmaker Billy Corben told the New York Times. “We’re now an irrelevant laughingstock.”
Even two days after the voting had finished, Miami-Dade County was still counting ballots after a fiasco that started with early voting and carried over through the general election.
Long lines and frustrated voters dominated the polls in Miami-Dade County, with some voters waiting up to six hours on Election Day to cast their ballot. That was after a week of early voting that saw some lines stretch up to five hours long.
Yet never once did the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Gimenez, ever ask Governor Rick Scott to extend the voting hours. When absentee voting was allowed in person on the Sunday before the election, Gimenez shut it down for awhile before it re-opened, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.
Scott refused to extend early voting days throughout, even as problems in Miami-Dade County grew and became national news.
But Florida’s failures on Election Day in 2012 had no bearing on the race overall. President Barack Obama secured more than enough Electoral College votes by 11:15 p.m. Tuesday to be declared the winner of the White House.
Other states like Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, and Iowa stole Florida’s usual thunder as the state that would eventually decide the nation’s president. This happened despite Florida increasing its Electoral College number to 29 votes, which were the most of any swing state on Tuesday.
Susan McManus, a political science professor at University of South Florida, said that while Florida wasn’t particularly relevant Tuesday, it’ won’t always be that way.
“That chemistry can change from one election to another,” she said. “I don’t think there’s ever going to be an election with a competitive state like Florida that won’t be a hard-fought place.”
As of Thursday morning, President Barack Obama was leading Mitt Romney by a 49.89% to 49.25% margin. Total, Obama had 4,173,275 votes to Romney’s 4,120,025 votes; a difference of roughly 53,250 votes.
If President Obama maintains that lead, he will be declared the winner and there will likely not be a recount.