TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s handing of last year’s election has been the target of criticism and will likely spark changes, but election officials say in a new report that there’s no indication of voter confusion.
The report shows the number and percentage of people who cast invalid votes for president remained nearly the same as four years ago.
State election officials using voting data from all 67 counties found that the number of people who cast ballots that included invalid votes in the presidential race was .75 percent, or 63,645 people. Back in 2008 there were 63,780 invalid votes. This number includes those who wrote the wrong name on the ballot, left the ballot blank or voted for more than one candidate. It does not include an estimated 17,000 provisional ballots that were rejected.
“There is nothing in the compiled presidential contest data to indicate that there was voter confusion during the election,” states the report issued by the Department of State.
President Barack Obama won Florida and its 29 electoral votes by slightly more than 74,000 votes over GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
The election in the Sunshine State was marred by long lines and problems with counting the ballots. Gov. Rick Scott and Republican legislators have pledged to avoid a repeat in the next election. Scott has already called for extending the number of days available for early voting.
One trend that was noted in the report: The percentage of people voting on Election Day dropped significantly between 2010 — when Scott and Marco Rubio were on the ballot — and this past November.
The report notes that less than 44 percent of the nearly 8.54 million votes cast came on Election Day. A majority of voters chose to either vote early or cast an absentee ballot. In 2010 more than 56 percent of voters went to the polls on Election Day.
Chris Cate, a spokesman for Secretary Ken Detzner, said that was one of the reasons state officials were recommending more days for early voting.
“More and more people are taking advantage of early and absentee voting and that can be attributed in part to voters being better educated about voting, better accessibility to these options and voters just feeling more comfortable voting on a day other than Election Day,” Cate said.
The chaotic presidential election of 2000, which hinged on a contentious recount in Florida, led to the state tracking the number of votes that were not counted.
The 2012 report shows that out of nearly 64,000 invalid votes, nearly 24,000 were so-called “undervotes.”
This means that the voter left the ballot blank in the race for president. The rest of invalid votes were from people who either voted for more than one candidate or wrote an invalid name such as “Mickey Mouse” or even “none of the above.”
Miami-Dade County had the highest number of invalid votes in the state. Data compiled by the state shows that 9,719 voters from that county did not cast a vote for president.
The report does note that out of the different types of voting that absentee ballots consistently have a higher error rate of “undervotes” and instances of where people voted for more than one candidate.
State officials also said that the data “did not reveal any anomalies” with the voting equipment used across the state. Florida switched the type of voting machines it used after the 2006 election.
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