ORLANDO, Florida | DMN — President Barack Obama is gearing up for his second inauguration on Monday but for many residents of Florida election day was hardly a day they want to remember. According to The Orlando Sentinel, at least 201,000 would-be voters opted out of their right to cast a ballot after ‘frustrating’ long lines. Theodore Allen, a professor at Ohio State University, analyzed data collected by the Sentinel about voter patterns and the closing times for the state’s largest precincts.
Allen even speculates the actual number of voters who gave up could be higher. ‘You make people wait longer, they are less likely to vote.’ Two million registered voters in Florida live in counties that saw voting centers staying open two hours past the mandated 7 p.m. closing time. Lee County, in southern Florida, had a precinct that didn’t close until 2:54 a.m. the following day. Officials for the election cited insufficient resources. Even though the number of registered voters increased by 70,000 since the last presidential election in 2008, the county shrunk the number of polling places from 136 to 85.
In 2011 the Florida legislature scaled back the number of early-voting days from 14 to eight. The Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has said he would support legislation restoring the 14-day early-voting period. The 201,000 voters who gave up on election day represents a loss of 2.3 percent of the turnout, according to Allen. He gives a slight edge to President Obama for taking the majority of those votes. This isn’t the first time the state has been thrust into the national spotlight during election day blunders. The state, particularly Palm Beach County, was infamous during the 2000 presidential election that resulted in the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore.