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Florida's Most Populous County Finishes Vote Count

It only took two extra days, but Florida's Miami-Dade County has finished counting votes in the presidential election.

Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley said Thursday she was pleased to announce that the state's most populous county, with more than 2.5 million people, was "the first of the large counties to complete its tabulation process."

Townsley was referring to three other large counties — Broward (population 1.8 million), Palm Beach (population 1.3 million) and Duval (population 870,000) — that were still tallying absentee ballots.

Townsley is trying to make the best of an election marred by long lines and waits, in some cases of several hours. In some Miami precincts, the last voters didn't cast their ballots until after 1 a.m. on Wednesday. Elections officials blame the sheer number of people who turned out — plus a lengthy ballot of 10 to 12 pages, depending on locale — for making the voting process so troublesome.

Townsley said her office deployed 200 additional voting booths and 400 staff to polling stations with long lines on election night, but it wasn't enough.

"Am I embarrassed or disappointed by some of the things that happened? Absolutely," said Townsley. "But I have to focus on simply getting it right, and that is what I will move to do."

Townsley said her office will conduct an "after action report" to determine what went wrong, and expects that the task force doing the analysis will make recommendations to Florida's Legislature. But she also maintained that generally speaking, the county actually conducted a very good election.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez already said he plans to ask Florida Gov. Rick Scott to support extending days for early voting. Scott said his administration will conduct its own analysis looking at how the election was conducted and how it can be improved.

With Miami-Dade's numbers, President Obama's lead over Mitt Romney in Florida stood Thursday at more than 50,000 votes. But with absentee ballot counts still under way, NPR and other news organizations had yet to call the race.

The Associated Press reports that under state law, county officials have until noon on Saturday to submit results to the secretary of state.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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