TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Three days after the election, Florida still waited for a final tally in the presidential race as Palm Beach County worked to finish counting its absentee ballots.
State election officials said they expected Palm Beach to wrap up their work on Friday.
All counties must report their voting results to the state by noon Saturday so Floridians, and the nation, will definitely know then who won Florida and if a recount is necessary.
On Friday afternoon, President Obama led Mitt Romney by about 60,000 votes out of 8.4 million cast in Florida. That's outside the one-half of one percent margin that would trigger a recount so it looks as though Florida will avoid a recount and President Obama will win Florida.
Florida Department of State spokesman Chris Cate says the state will not call a winner in the race.
"We're not going to call the race at any point until we actually certify the results (on Nov. 20). We'll keep reporting results and let the media do the calling of the race. But I think the best indicator that we can give will be on Saturday when we either order a recount or if we don't. If we don't order a recount on Saturday, then I think that will be the best indicator that we can give as to who will be the ultimate winner when we certify the results."
Romney's campaign has already conceded the race in Florida. The only thing left to do is award the state's 29 electoral votes to the winner.
Election supervisors say they received many more in-person absentee ballots than normal in the closing days of the campaign. Cate says that was a big factor in slowing down the process of counting votes.
"There was an unusual amount of media attention given to in-person absentee ballots in the days leading up to the election, which is certainly an option for Floridians to vote but I do think it led more Floridians to vote, rather than at their precinct, to cast these in-person absentee ballots, which takes much more time to canvass when you consider you have to open up the envelopes that they're in, look at the signatures to make sure that the signatures on those absentee ballots match what's on file, and also to make sure those people who have cast absentee ballots have not already voted and that's what these counties have been doing to make sure the count is as accurate as possible."
Many of Florida's polling sites during early voting and on Election Day had long lines, some with waits of six hours or more. Gov. Rick Scott has promised to figure out how to make the process more efficient.
But once again, Florida finds itself the target of jokes about its election system. Election officials are trying to take it all in stride.
"I think in a state like Florida, a very large swing state, you're going to be under much more scrutiny than other states. I think that's the driving factor behind the attention we're getting. But I think Floridians should know that we're counting votes accurately and if there's anything that we can do right, that's the most important thing, and Floridians can be assured that that's what we're doing," said Cate.
First Coast News