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Resource ID: #26046
Despite well-reported anecdotes of long voter lines in Florida during the 2008 general election, everyone appeared unprepared and shocked when the same problem emerged in the 2012 general election, with early reports indicating that the voting wait times might have been even worse this time. Orlando Sentinel political reporters David Damron and Scott Powers (who also is a CAR reporter) set out to quantify the problems and determine who was most affected, by seeking, obtaining and analyzing county Supervisor of Elections data on closing times for precincts, and using that data to find human stories about long polling place lines and late, late votes. The effort snowballed from an initial report published Dec. 17, 2012, on four counties in the Orlando Sentinel market, to broader, deeper and more analytical reports that reached statewide, and appeared to be cited in President Barack Obama's Feb. 12 State of the Union speech. Obtaining data from the state's 25 largest counties, and arranging assistance from an Ohio State University professor, the Orlando Sentinel pinpointed where and why long lines developed, and who was affected, and concluded that 200,000 voters might have turned away in frustration. Follow-up stories, showing clear responses from state and federal officials, included contributions from Mark K. Matthews of the Orlando Sentinel's Washington bureau.