Published January 13, 2015
Several surprises marked the results from Sept. 10's party primaries around the country.
Against the backdrop of widespread mechanical problems at the polls, it was still not known who won the Democratic nod in Florida's governor's race.
Counting continued in Miami-Dade and Broward counties Wednesday evening, South Florida strongholds for former Attorney General Janet Reno, who trailed by more than 12,000 votes. Counting also continued in Orange County.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Bill McBride had 599,056 votes, or 44.7 percent, compared with Reno's 586,918 votes, or 43.8 percent. Miami Sen. Daryl Jones had 155,521 votes, or 11.6 percent.
The Miami Herald projected McBride would win the election in a story posted on its Web site Wednesday night. The newspaper cautioned that the margin of victory may be small enough to trigger a recount.
"That analysis is similar to ours, although we would have a higher margin," said McBride spokesman Alan Stonecipher. He said the campaign projects winning by 5,000 to 10,000 votes. The state would require a recount if the margin of victory was less than a half a percent of all ballots cast, or about 6,750 votes.
Reno said, "What I will do is go back and look at the figures and then comment."
Both campaigns said the election would not be decided until at least Thursday morning, when state Division of Elections employees planned to return to work. Counties had until noon Thursday to report unofficial results.
Final results were delayed because a number of problems popped up with the state's new touch-screen voting machines, causing some polling places to open hours late and sending hundreds of people home unable to vote.
"I don't know exactly what's going to be done to rectify these problems, but obviously something needs to be done," said Gisela Salas, Miami-Dade's assistant elections supervisor, on Wednesday. Her boss, Elections Supervisor David Leahy, refused to say when the final vote tally would be available.
Because of complaints, which began to emerge early Tuesday, Gov. Bush ordered polling stations to stay open a few extra hours Tuesday, but some polls didn't get the word, leaving voters angry. All told, problems were reported in 14 of Florida's 67 counties, including six of the seven that were sued after the infamous presidential election in 2000. The governor called the entire situation "shameful."
"I frankly wonder what the hell they have been doing for the last two years," said an exasperated Secretary of State Jim Smith. He referred to the faulty ballots, undercounts, mass confusion and eventual recounts that led to delayed election of President Bush. Since then, $32 million has been spent on the updated touch-screen ballot boxes.
In Florida, individual country supervisors of elections are responsible for conducting elections.
As counting continued Wednesday, Reno talked to advisers about whether to take action such as filing suit or demanding a recount. Her campaign manager, Mo Elleithee, had said the situation "raises enough concerns that we're going to have to take a good, hard look at the legitimacy of the election."
McBride, who had been trailing Reno two months ago by at least 25 points before bouncing back to overtake that lead, said he hoped the counting would be over soon with as little drama as possible.
"We'll see what happens," McBride said early Wednesday. "I thought it was going to be close, but I thought it would have been settled by now. I just hope this gets straightened out."
Early Wednesday, glitches sent police to seven precincts in Miami-Dade County to pick up electronic-voting-machine cartridges, so that poll officials could try to determine how many ballots went uncounted.
Duval County was missing results from one precinct, while 42 percent of the paper ballots in Orange County, in central Florida, were unable to be read. Union County workers began counting their 2,600 ballots by hand because a programming error registered all Democrats as Republican there.
Many state Democrats -- and Republicans -- think McBride stands the best chance in November to knock off Bush.
Reno has been on the outs with Florida's Cuban community, an influential voting bloc, since she authorized the federal raid two years ago that took Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives. The boy was sent back to Cuba with his father.
In other voting, former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris won the GOP primary for an open House seat in a safely Republican district.
Fox News' Collins Spencer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.