Election Day time line in elections supervisor's office

Hillsborough County's general election was filled with problems, and 80,000 votes remain uncounted due to technical difficulties. Here's a look at the Tueday's events:

7 a.m.: Hundreds of early-morning voters at Hillsborough precincts are not given the second page of their ballot and have no opportunity to vote on several state constitutional amendments, two local amendments and the county mayor veto issue.

1:30 p.m.: Ten additional voting booths are delivered to the University of South Florida, where long lines of students are waiting to vote in a small room in the Marshall Center.

6:30 p.m.: The Hillsborough supervisor of elections office sends a laptop and extra staff to help speed up the voting process at USF. Wait times are now approaching four hours.

7:35 p.m.: Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson makes a surprise visit to USF. He blames the delays on the unusual number of students trying to cast ballots. "This is not a mistake,'' he says. "It's an extraordinary event.''

8:45 p.m.: Scores of students remain in line inside and outside the Marshall Center, many with iPods in their ears as they put up with the long wait.

10:45 p.m.: With the vote count lagging far behind other Florida counties, Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White, a member of the canvassing board, says the county's scanning machines are having problems transmitting results to the Election Service Center. White says the county will have to physically bring in about 125 of the machines to get the votes tallied.

11:05 p.m.: About five minutes after television networks call the race for Barack Obama, the last USF student in line casts his ballot.

11:25 p.m.: Now back at the Supervisor's Election Service Center, Johnson gives a glowing review of the day to reporters. "It's been a beautiful day for Hillsborough County,'' he says. "I can't tell you how happy and proud I am of this office.''

Johnson says he is looking forward to continuing his office's partnership with Premier Election Solutions, which has a $5.8-million contract with the county to provide voting hardware and software. He calls the counting delays minor. He refuses to take questions from reporters.

12:15 a.m: Commissioner Rose Ferlita, a member of the county canvassing board, says its going to be a long wait for additional vote totals. More than 120 machines have yet to upload their data. "It's a joke," Ferlita says.

1:45 a.m.: State elections officials tell Johnson's office they are shutting down for the night. The vote count continues in Hillsborough. Johnson is behind closed doors in an office.

2:30 a.m.: Johnson speaks again with reporters, this time ripping into Premier. He says the company was supposed to issue a statement about the problems hours earlier, but never did. He walks away and then walks back. Johnson asks reporters if he can go off the record. No one agrees. As Johnson again walks away, a cameraman for one of the TV stations says that as an elected official, he shouldn't be going off the record with reporters who only want to report what's going on.

Johnson walks back toward the cameraman. "Why don't you say that to my face!" he says, raising his voice. He backpedals almost immediately and walks out.

3 a.m.: Johnson returns to the room, telling reporters that he wants to compliment the wonderful job done by David Parks, a technology specialist he hired to help with the vote count. Johnson does not say why he thinks Parks is doing a great job.

Johnson then rips into Premier, saying he is willing to consider ending its contract.

3:30 a.m.: The counting of Hillsborough's votes shuts down with about 6,000 absentee votes and more than 80,000 early votes still outstanding.

4 a.m.: Johnson comes in to speak with the last remaining reporter. He describes a phone conversation he had with the Premier president and leaves.

4:30 a.m.: Everyone is gone except Johnson and top aide Kathy Harris. He said they are sticking around to strategize about what to do next. The reporter leaves and they are alone.

Election Day time line in elections supervisor's office 11/05/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 7, 2008 12:52pm]

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