An hour after the polls opened in Florida Tuesday morning, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office mistakenly sent out more than 12,000 automatic calls telling voters they could cast their ballots as late as 7 p.m. Wednesday.
In fact, all polls close in Florida Tuesday night and any ballots turned in after that will not be counted.
“We had scheduled them for Monday, and any remaining calls that didn’t go out, started going out today,” Nancy Whitlock, a spokesperson for the county’s elections office, told NBC News.
The automatic calls were meant to alert voters who had requested absentee ballots, but not yet returned them, that they had until 7 p.m. “tomorrow,” as in Tuesday, to drop them off. But a glitch in the county’s vendor phone system caused the 12,000 calls that did not go out Monday to be held overnight and then recycled Tuesday morning. The outdated calls were going out for about 30 minutes before confused voters alerted the office.
A new automatic call went out within the hour clarifying to voters that “today is Election Day,” Whitlock said.
The Tampa Bay Times first reported the news. It said that Carole Crist, wife of former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, was reportedly among the voters who received the misleading call this morning.
Florida has 29 electoral votes, and both presidential candidates have campaigned tenaciously in pursuit of them. President Obama carried the state in 2008, but Romney has pushed hard for what Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner predicts will be as many as 9 million votes in 2012.
Romney began his full final day of campaigning in Florida Monday with a rally held inside an airplane hangar.
“Look, we have one job left and that’s to make sure that on Election Day…we make certain that everybody who is qualified to vote, gets out to vote,” Romney said Monday. “We need every single vote in Florida.”