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2012: Chaos in FL

In what could be a preview of crises to come on election day in Florida, NBC’s Jamie Novogrod reports that a Miami-Dade elections office on Sunday temporarily shut its doors, leaving a crowd of several hundred people in the street, shouting, "Let us vote."

They had come after the county announced it would open its headquarters for people to request and file absentee ballots in person. Officials said they were overwhelmed by the size of the crowd, but re-opened their doors an hour later.  The Miami Herald later reported Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered the interruption.

The meltdown in Miami came after Democrats in Florida filed a lawsuit early Sunday seeking an opportunity for people to cast votes in person using absentee ballots. The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Miami, cited reports of lines up to seven hours at polling stations Saturday -- the last day of Florida's eight-day early voting period.

"These extraordinary lines … have required voters to stand in line for many hours to exercise their right to vote," the complaint read, adding that in some cases the wait "deterred or prevented voters from casting their ballots."

Florida's Republican Secretary of State Ken Detzner is named as a defendant, along with the supervisors of elections in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties.

Miami-Dade officials told the Miami Herald that they reached a decision late Saturday to allow in-person absentee voting the next day, though their announcement came after the Democrats' suit was filed. The other two counties named by the Democrats also complied.  Later, Democrats sent out releases noting additional counties where in person absentee ballots could be requested and filed.

If Sunday looked like a PR win for the Democrats, it also illustrated how politics still tangles the vote here in Florida, 12 years after the recount following Bush v. Gore.  But this year, analysts say, the point of contention is not voting technology.

"Unlike in 2000, where the problem was voting equipment, this time it's not about equipment. It's about the process," said Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of Southern Florida.