Judge orders 1 Fla. county to extend early voting

Associated Press Modified: November 4, 2012 at 5:46 pm •  Published: November 4, 2012
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But Florida's early voting program was the main focus in the campaign's final weekend, with memories of the state's disputed 2000 presidential vote between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush still fresh.

Besides the Orange County challenge, Democrats filed a federal lawsuit Sunday seeking more voting time in Broward County and in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, where balloting didn't wrap up until early Sunday morning to accommodate voters still standing in long lines when the polls closed.

The Miami-Dade elections office reopened to accept absentee ballots Sunday after shutting down temporarily.

Deputy Supervisor Christina White said officials closed the location out of concern that their limited personnel and one printer couldn't handle the large crowd who showed up. Voters banged on the front doors and demanded to vote, prompting staff to reopen the office about an hour later.

Palm Beach County began accepting absentee ballots at 9 a.m. Sunday. "I decided to open because we are allowed to do so," said Susan Bucher, supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County.

Broward County allowed voters to pick up absentee ballots Sunday, but only if they made an appointment in advance.

Early voting differs from absentee balloting in Florida. Early voting takes place at multiple sites and uses the same machines as those used on Election Day. Absentee voters must go to the supervisor of elections' office and fill out a mail-in ballot, then hand it to a worker.

At the Winter Park Library site in Orange County, voters were offered provisional ballots, which are reviewed by local canvassing boards before they are counted. Some voters left upon hearing the information, opting to drive to the election supervisor's office and cast an absentee ballot instead.

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Beth Fouhy reported from Washington. Associated Press Writers Curt Anderson in Miami, Ann Sanner in Columbus, Ohio, and Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., contributed to this report.

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Follow Gary Fineout on Twitter: http://twitter.com/fineout

Follow Beth Fouhy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bfouhy

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