Florida Election a Mess Yet Again

According to Kendall Coffey, Florida has a lot of work to do to get its election problems under control.

It’s fourth on the list for the most electoral votes, and it’s a swing state beside. The past few elections have really underlined the need for change in their current system.


“At this point, many election officials and candidates and lawyers are exhausted. They might be tempted to move on to other issues, but we really need to think about this and how to address these problems,” he said. “I think we will take a broad look at what needs to be done to eliminate excessive lines.”


Early voting is generally liked by most voters, who would much rather send their ballots in early than wait in line for six hours at a time. Kendall Coffey pointed to the fact that ballots were still being counted into Wednesday morning—seriously delaying the final count.


“If it weren’t for Obama’s win in Ohio, the focus would be on Florida and what a mess things are here,” Coffey said.


It’s unfair to voters especially when they aren’t able to get their vote in until after one presidential candidate has already reached the winning number of electoral college votes, such as was the case for some of Florida’s residents who were up past midnight trying to vote.


The most important thing besides offering early voting, Coffey says, is making sure that there are enough resources available and working to help local election offices get voters through lines at a reasonable pace.

Florida Votes a Mess

Kendall Coffey said this year’s election mess in Florida reminded him of the election in 2000.

That was the year Al Gore ran against George W. Bush, the latter winning by a narrow margin of 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 266. The election was wrought with a particular amount of controversy after Bush was awarded Florida’s electoral votes by a lead of just a few hundred votes. After recounts, the original total was upheld and Bush was awarded the presidency.


Coffey was on the team of attorneys who represented Al Gore in the ensuing lawsuits to do the recount by hand instead of by machine. This year, Florida election officials were up into the early hours of Wednesday morning tallying votes.


“There’s no hanging chads or butterfly ballots, but there’s still a question mark looming over the map of Florida,” said Coffey. “As I was watching the news around 2:30 this morning, I looked at a map with blue, red, and then there was one state that was none of the above, and it was Florida. That part is déjà vu again.”


But there wasn’t nearly as much controversy surrounding Florida this year, despite the lateness of their results. “The giant dissimilarity is Florida became irrelevant rather than a decider of history,” Coffey said. President Obama reached the winning number of electoral votes well before Florida finished its official count.


This year’s slow process was due in part to the large volume of absentee ballots sent in. In Brevard County, for example, nearly a third of all votes were absentee ballots, about 91,000 –each of which is carefully examined by hand by multiple elections office staff members to assure they are valid before putting them in the vote-scanning machine.


Coffey, among others in Florida, is calling for change in Florida’s voting system with the hope that a reorganization could help expedite the process in the future and make it less frustrating for voters, officials, and the rest of the country.