Florida Certifies Election Results...Two Weeks Late.
November 21, 2012 | WMFE - The 2012 Florida election results are official after the state certified them on Tuesday. After some election-night snags and tight races that kept supervisors counting even past Sunday's deadline, Now, many Florida officials and lawmakers are calling for elections reforms.
With their signatures on the elections certificates, the Florida Elections Canvassing Commission put an end to some hotly contested races. The commission is made up of Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
Their certifications made President Obama’s 29 electoral votes official, with his final share of the Florida vote at just over 50 percent. Detzner says the results included unofficial returns from St. Lucie County, which was still recounting some votes when Sunday’s deadline passed.
St. Lucie was the only county that did not get its returns filed in time but Detzner says it wouldn’t have affected the eventual outcome of the election.
“If St. Lucie County had timely submitted its retabulated returns, those returns would not have affected the ultimate outcome of any race and would not have placed any race within the margin of a recount.”
St. Lucie County is part of U.S. Congressional District 18, a race that Republican Allen West conceded to Democrat Patrick Murphy Tuesday. Initial results showed Murphy won by less than a percent. The St. Lucie returns showed Murphy with about 50.3% and West with 49.7%. Both candidates had raised millions of dollars and outside groups had poured in even more to back them.
West, a one-term Tea Party backed Congressman, is giving up his seat to Murphy, who, at 29 years old, is the youngest current U.S. Representative.
West had tried to get a judge to make all counties in the district recount their votes, but with each retabulation, Murphy’s margin of victory grew. Finally West conceded on Tuesday morning.
Governor Rick Scott said Murphy had won fair and square. “That’s what, that’s what all the numbers show.” Scott said.
But, Scott said, the system needs to be improved.
On Election Day, there were reports at some Miami-Dade precincts that voters stood in line for up to 6 hours. Other precincts in Lee County had to order more ballots midday and others reported understaffing.
Gov. Scott says, he’s asked Secretary Detzner to meet with elections supervisors around the state and come up with a reform plan.
“I want to make sure everybody feels comfortable getting out to vote.” Scott said. “Of course, I want everybody to get involved in elections. I tell everybody in my talks ‘Go vote, register to vote if you have a right to.’ I’m glad we have the SAVE Database, as you know, to make sure that your vote’s not gonna get diluted.”
Scott won access to the immigration database after fighting the federal government in court. It was part of Florida’s controversial voter purge that ended up identifying more than 200 non-citizens for removal from the state rolls.
Add to that the Florida law changes that cut down the number of early voting days and many advocates and lawmakers were claiming voter suppression in the months leading up to the election.
But, Secretary Detzner says he’s not ready to blame the Election Day problems on the shortened early voting period.
“We’re gonna look at what we need to do to fix the issues.” Detzner said. “Clearly, people standing in line is not an acceptable standard for our elections process. I’m not one to affix blame. I’m looking for solutions.”
Detzner says, the elections supervisors are still collecting data and he expects to give a full report to the governor some time next year.