The polls throughout most of the state of Florida officially close at 7 p.m. Eastern, but everyone in line by that time will be allowed to cast a ballot. Still, near the end of the day here, election officials as well as voting rights advocates are declaring victory. No major problems occurred here, at least nothing like what people experienced in 2000.
The most troubled spot in Florida is Broward County, whose largest city is Fort Lauderdale. At an afternoon press conference William McCormick, president of the local branch of the NAACP, said that the county experienced scattered problems in various locations, including reports of people attempting to block voters' access to polling places (a problem quickly resolved by police), and of flawed registration cards that directed some voters to the wrong polling places. Elliot Mincberg, legal director of the People for the American Way Foundation, which is part of a large group of election observers known as Election Protection, characterized the problems in Broward as "not a conflagration, but a series of brush fires."
The brush fires burned some people, but they were quickly contained, Mincberg said, thanks to the work of thousands of volunteers, for whom he had much praise. "We've had volunteers from all over the country who were here at 5:30 in the morning and have been sitting around in the hot sun all day, helping voters doing what they can do," Mincberg said. "Every one of them will be able to say when they go home that they've helped at least several voters cast a vote that wouldn't have been cast if they weren't there, and that is a terrific feeling."