Polls opened late and machines malfunctioned Tuesday during Florida's first test of new touch-screen voting machines installed since the 2000 election fiasco.
Gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno said she would call on Gov. Jeb Bush to extend primary election voting hours because of the delays, including that at one precinct in Miami in which voting didn't begin until 11:45 a.m.--nearly five hours after polls opened.
Officials estimate that about 500 people left one precinct without getting to vote. Reno herself was delayed at her Miami precinct while election workers struggled to get the new voting machines up and running. "Any time you have a new system, you're going to have problems," said Gisela Salas, Miami-Dade County assistant supervisor of elections. "We expected problems, but not to this magnitude."
One of the most critical issues being decided at the polls today is whether a 1998 provision in Miami-Dade County's human rights ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation will be repealed. Gay rights opponents have campaigned for months to repeal the law, gathering enough signatures to land their measure on the primary election ballot. But a recent poll showed that the ballot measure was failing badly, which had gay rights activists confident that they would prevail.