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Florida voting -- what's the hang-up?

9:55 AM, Nov 8, 2012   |    comments
Miami-Dade County elections workers count absentee ballots in Doral, Fla., on Wednesday.(Photo: Alan Diaz, AP)
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A dozen years after the 2000 presidential vote-count debacle, the nation again was left waiting for Florida on election night. And the day after.

Unlike the hanging-chad disputes that turned the Bush-Gore presidential race into a tortuous legal tangle that went to the Supreme Court before the presidency was decided, this time the whole world isn't watching. Florida, a huge battleground state, turned out to be non-essential - President Obama was able to build an Electoral College majority without it.

But for the people of South Florida, some of whom waited as long as seven hours in line to cast a vote, another ballot meltdown is frustratingly familiar.

What's wrong with Florida when it comes to voting?

Charles Stewart, an MIT political scientist who is co-director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-CalTech voting technology project, says election problems in Florida are like the old computer joke about problematic software: "It's not a bug - it's a feature.''

Florida, he says, has taken steps since 2000 to modernize and improve its voting systems, but they remain plagued by poor management, lack of capacity and systemic dysfunction. The system manages to work in most counties but seems to fail repeatedly in the biggest ones where the population is large and diverse.

USA Today

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