Polls have opened in Florida in what's described as the most expensive governor's race ever. Precincts in Eastern Standard Time opened at 7 o'clock this morning, and precints in the Panhandle opened an hour later. (Nov. 4)
People leave a voting precinct in Panama City, Fla., on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/The News Herald, Andrew Wardlow)
A voter, back right, heads to a polling place, to cast her vote as a campaign worker for a candidate holds signs outside the precinct, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
MIAMI — A judge denied a last-minute request Tuesday night from former Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign to extend voting by two hours in Broward County because of what he called voter confusion and malfunctions.
Evelyn Perez-Verdoa, elections spokeswoman for the county, confirmed the judge's ruling but gave no other details. Crist's campaign filed the motion shortly before the polls closed at 7 p.m. in most of the state. The Republican-turned-Democrat Crist has been locked in a tight race with incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
According to the motion, malfunctions with some addresses caused voters to be bounced between precincts, and ultimately the system didn't register them. Crist's motion says that made them unable to cast regular ballots.
In August, legislators adopted a new map that alters seven of the state's existing 27 districts. Crist's campaign says those changes confused voters.
Secretary of State Ken Detzner said there were some isolated voting problems across the state, but nothing systemic or unusual.
"We did not hear of any of those reports that were alleged in the lawsuit. They were a surprise to us ... Supervisor (Brenda) Snipes did a good job or resolving those problems on a timely basis," he said.
For the most part, voting went smoothly across the Sunshine State, where more than 3 million Floridians voted early. But the bitter tone of the campaign ads between Scott and Crist, which have been increasingly negative and personal, appeared to extend to the voting booth.
Some voters described the multimillionaire Scott as "shady," while others said Crist was wishy-washy.
Cindy Taylor of Jacksonville said she and her husband, who is a mechanic and truck driver, voted for Scott because he was "the lesser of two evils." However, she said she did think Scott has helped to protect their Second Amendment rights in the state.
"At least he made it where we can pull a gun on somebody who breaks into our house," she said.
Scott is not responsible for residents' rights to protect themselves inside their homes with a firearm, but he has repeatedly spoken in support of the "stand your ground" self-defense law outside your home.
In Clearwater, Rachel Conversi, 20, voted for Crist.
"I just think Rick Scott's really shady and I don't support his actions so far," she said. "I think Crist has had a change of heart and he's a better choice for Florida than Rick Scott is."
Detzner preliminarily projected that voter turnout would be around 50 percent, which is what it's been historically.
Floridians rejected a measure to legalize medical marijuana, with the controversial amendment just shy of the 60 percent threshold needed to pass. Voters also rejected a measure that would let the outgoing governor fill three expected vacancies on the state Supreme Court in 2019. A measure dedicating billions of dollars to conservation efforts was passed.
Under Amendment 2, to obtain medical marijuana, patients would have to get a doctor's certification of their condition, which in turn would qualify them for a patient ID card they could use at licensed dispensaries.
Stephen Carr, a 31-year-old law student, biked to his Gainesville polling place to vote for Crist. The Democrat voted against Amendment 2.
"I'm just concerned it's going to lead to a lot of people manipulating the system illegally to get marijuana on the up-and-up," he said. "I'm not totally opposed to legalizing marijuana, but I just think it would be better to wait."
Associated Press writers Melissa Nelson in Pensacola, Kareem Copeland in Tallahassee, Alex Harris in Gainesville, Derek Kinner in Jacksonville and Jared Leone in Clearwater contributed to this report.