Posted: November 6, 2012
Reports of Broward County, FL Precincts Running Out of Ballots--Might Have Deterred Some Voters
Local media in Florida have been reporting on scattered problems in South Florida, with voters waiting up to seven hours to vote amid precincts running out of paper ballots. There were “quite a few” precincts that ran out of ballots in Broward County. The reports suggest that some voters may have left the lines as opposed to waiting for election officials to replenish those precincts. If Florida is close (and CNN just said that Romney has a 636-vote lead!), this could be one basis of a challenge: that voters were effectively denied the right to vote because of these problems. The equal protection hook would be that voters in other areas of the state did not endure these long lines and a corresponding “disenfranchisement.”
It is difficult to fathom an appropriate remedy for this kind of problem – a Judge is unlikely to order
additional voting days. The similar remedy in New Jersey because of Hurricane Sandy – allowing voters to cast email absentee ballots through Friday – is unprecedented. Moreover, voters in Florida were not actually disenfranchised: they could have stayed in line as long as they needed to vote. Indeed, news reports suggest that there were still lines an hour and a half after the polls closed. But this issue is still one to watch if Florida is close and would determine the outcome of the presidential election. We will continue to monitor this story.