Former US Attorney General Janet Reno was trailing her opponent Bill McBride following yesterday’s Democratic primary in the race for Florida’s governor. Early today, with 97 percent of precincts reporting, McBride had 596,472 votes, or 45 percent, compared with Reno’s 577,380 votes, or 43 percent, according to the Associated Press. However, final results were not yet in because the state faced significant voting problems – despite the $30 million spent to improve its voting system after major problems in the 2000 presidential elections.
In the first statewide election since the 2000 race, voters faced malfunctioning voting machines and closed or short-staffed polling places. Several polling places in Miami and its suburbs opened late and in 14 counties across the state, ballots jammed and tore in some machines, poll workers left their posts in frustration and some Democratic voters were given Republican ballots, according to the New York Times. Acting on a request from Reno, Governor Jeb Bush agreed to allow the polls to stay open late. Reno is considering filing suit to challenge the results of the primary election, according to the Associated Press.
“It is unbelievable and inexcusable that after the fiasco in November 2000, Florida officials – from Governor Bush to county election supervisors – did not do everything possible to prevent this kind of disenfranchisement from happening again,” wrote the People for the American Way in a media advisory. As the first woman appointed US Attorney General, Reno, who served during the Clinton administration, championed such causes as violence against women and the protection of abortion rights.
In other Florida election news, the referendum to overturn an ordinance protecting lesbians and gay men from discrimination in Miami-Dade County looks like it will not pass, according to NBC’s KPVI TV. With most of the votes counted, the measure was trailing with 47 percent of the vote. The referendum was approved to go on the ballot despite the fact that several members of the religious groups who organized a petition drive to obtain the referendum, including Antonio Verdugo, head of the Miami-Dade Christian Coalition, were arrested for electoral fraud.