Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Early voting in Florida
We asked a McCain supporter who was walking the line just beyond the point where no campaigning is allowed how long the actual wait was and he said a "minimum" of 2.5 hours. My daugher had no choice, it was vote then or not at all (because of work and school committments) However I did not wait, I have other opportunities to try to vote.
I drove home and my daughter called to be picked up at 9:10 p.m. It took her 3 hours.
Why so long a wait? Well, the regular precinct isn't where early voting takes place, so there are limited places to do so, and the way things are set up you can vote at an early voting place no matter what precinct you are registered in. In Miami Dade County there are a total of 20 (yes ONLY 20) locations where you can go to vote early.
Last week the hours were from 7 to 3, this week there were supposed to be from 11 to 7 but now it's 7 to 7. The person at the desk (when you get through the three check points first, presenting picture ID) types your name into a computer which verifies your eligibility and the PRINTS OUT a ballot specific for the location where you are actually registered. So, people who do not live in Miami Dade County can vote in Miami Dade County because they will get a ballot that is specific to their area - i.e. Monroe County, Broward County, Jacksonville FL, Ft. Myers, Tampa etc. That is what takes the time, the individual printing of the ballot for each voter. If a student attends a FL university and is a FL resident they can vote in the city where their university is, but they vote for the people representing the place where they are actually registered. And if you are a FL resident on business and travel across the state knowing you won't be in your hometown on election day you can vote in any FL locale that has early voting and STILL vote for your local represenatives.
Now Gov. Charlie Crist has "extended" early voting hours to 12 hours a day, so the polling places will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. If you are in line at 7 p.m. they will still allow you to vote, but they will not allow others to que up after 7 p.m. I am going to try to vote tomorrow, or early Saturday morning. If I miss that opportunity or if my boss will allow me time off today to vote (and they don't have to allow time off for EARLY voting, only voting on the actual election day) I will have to vote at my regular polling place and probably go into work late.
At my "regular" voting place all the ballots printed will be the same, so there should be less wait time. One can only hope.
By the way it's COLD here. It was only 68 mid day yesterday (the high was at midnight at 71 degrees and then the temperature dropped during the early morning and only rose to 68) Last night it was in the 50's and this morning it is quite brisk. But people stood in line despite the chill. After all we are used to standing in lines for 2 hours at Disney World for a 3 minute ride, why can't we tolerate a 2 hour wait for a 4 year one?
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people" Eleanor Roosevelt