Anyone who hears the words “hanging chad” always thinks of Florida and groans. Well, anyone who was born before the nineties, unless, that is, they were very politically aware children.
Why is it that Florida always makes voting such a fiasco? It really shouldn’t be that hard. It really shouldn’t. Most other states seem to do just fine, thankyouverymuch. But Florida? Florida always seems to make a pleasant walk on the beach into climbing Everest. I’m starting to think it just likes the attention.
This election year, many states have given voters the option of turning out on weekends or other weekdays in the run-up to Election Day. This encourages voting and helps people get to the polls, when it can be a hassle to take time off on Tuesdays. Not to mention, squeezing voting into one day has its own challenges.
But in Florida this year, it has been a nightmare for voters, who have faced record wait times, long lines in the sun and a Republican governor, Rick Scott, who has refused to budge and extend early voting hours. ‘People are getting out to vote. That’s what’s very good,’ said Scott.
Riiiiight. Sure. That’s very good. Sure. People are getting out to vote alright, but it’s not easy. Many people are having to wait in line for three or four hours to do so. There have even been reports of people standing in line for six to nine hours. Can you imagine having to wait nine hours to vote? Those kinds of lines put Disneyland to shame.
Miami-Dade attempted to deal with the problem on Sunday by allowing voters to cast absentee ballots in person between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. However, after just two hours, the Miami-Dade elections department shut down the location after too many people showed up. People outside the locked doors were reportedly screaming, “We want to vote!” And if getting turned away from the polls weren’t enough of an indignity, some of those 180 people ended up getting their cars towed from the parking lot across the street, according to a Miami Herald reporter.
Making it easy to vote, my ass. That’s what I call making it hard to vote.
With all of the voter suppression going on this season, from voter ID laws to reports of campaigns going to the elderly and telling them they can give a verbal vote (illegal, bee tee double you), this is something I just didn’t see coming. Is this incompetence or is it voter suppression?
I just don’t see how it’s this big of a mess. This level of incompetence isn’t really believable. If it were just incompetence, why wouldn’t Scott being doing something more about it?
I’ll tell you why. Because this is the year of making it harder to vote, not easier.
A major reason there are so many problems at the polls is that last year, Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature shortened the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, meaning all early voters are trying to cast their ballots in a shorter window. Previously, Floridians were allowed to vote on the Sunday before Election Day — a day that typically had high traffic. But losing that final Sunday isn’t the only problem. In 2008, voters 65 or older were much more likely to cast ballots in the first five days of early voting than members of other age groups, alleviating some of the pressure at the polls in the remaining days. Those extra days, however, are gone this year, leading to a compression that the system has been unable to handle.
When you’re scared of the outcome, curb it with power games. Works every time.
By the way, while the Republican governor is making voting a living nightmare, others are helping out.
President Barack Obama’s campaign and some of its supporters were attempting to keep people’s spirits up — and discourage them from abandoning the lines — by bringing in food, water and even local musicians and DJs as entertainment. North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre brought 400 slices of pizza to voters in line at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night at the city’s public library, according to an Obama official.
And that is the difference. Did Obama’s campaign only offer food to Democrats? No. They offered food to everyone in line, every voter. Because no matter who you vote for, it’s important to vote. And by encouraging people to vote, no matter whom they choose, he’s making himself look better and the Republicans look desperate. Well played, Mr. President. Well played.
Now let’s just hope Scott doesn’t prevent anyone from voting through Tuesday. ”I’m focused on making sure that we have fair, honest elections,” said Scott. “One thing to know, these early voting days and on Election Day, if you’re there by the time the polls close, you get to vote.” Unless you wait for nine hours and they still close, dude. What then?
And Florida is a key state this election! Is anyone else scared?
Hey, Florida, after this debacle, you may want to take a cue from Oregon, where everyone votes absentee (and no one has to show ID). Though, I will say that I missed going into the voting booth. So not as satisfying.
But it is Florida after all, The Hanging Chad State. They’d probably “lose” all those absentee ballots.
I say we start the recount now.