Florida election 2012 results: Florida still in question as officials count absentee ballots

WASHINGTON - Election officials in Florida's Miami-Dade county worked overnight to count the county's outstanding ballots and they still have 500 left, said election officials on Thursday.

After that is finished, Penelope Townsley, supervisor of election for Miami-Dade County, told reporters that the process of counting the provisional ballots will begin.

Townsley expects all absentee and provisional ballots will be fully counted by Friday afternoon.

"This is simply a matter of sheer volume," Townsley said. "We're dealing with a tremendous amount of paper. We will continue this process, it will be completed, but it will be done so with integrity and accuracy. And every vote will be counted."

Florida remains the only state that CNN has yet to call in the already decided election. With 97% of the vote reported, President Barack Obama has earned 4,143,364 votes, edging out Mitt Romney's 4,096,351.

Florida -- and Miami-Dade county in particular -- was plagued by long lines at the polls. Voters queued long into the night on Tuesday; some still waiting to vote after the election had been called for Obama.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez called the voting issues "a perfect storm," in an interview with CNN.

"Without a doubt we had some operational issues that we have got to take care of," said Gimenez. "We had the longest ballot in Florida history. It probably took voters two and a half times longer to vote individually than they had last time."

For the mayor, who said he was "already knowledgeable" about all the ballot issue, it took him 10 to 15 minutes to get though the entire ballot. "Could you imagine," he said, "someone who didn't know everything on that ballot?"

Though the mayor said he is convening a special panel to look into the election issues, one reason the mayor volunteered was fewer days of early voting.

"We also had fewer days of early voting," Gimenez said. "That was changed by the state legislator and signed into law by the governor. We need to expand early voting hours again like we had in the past. We also need to expand the number of early voting sites."

Carolina Lopez, Miami-Dade County Election department spokeswoman, told reporters Thursday in Doral, Florida, that their department worked through the night to process all the 21,500 absentee ballots.

Those ballots, she said, will be "processed very shortly."

"I believe that when you're the largest county in the state of Florida, history will put all eyes on us," Lopez said. "But the important thing is just to keep on, giving the best performance that we can, providing accurate results so that they're not scrutinized later. I think when it's all said and done, our 1.3-million registered voters will have solid results and we can move past the presidential election."