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Ear to the Ground

Early Voting in Florida Becomes a Nightmare

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Posted on Nov 5, 2012
AP/Alan Diaz

Long lines greet Florida voters eager to cast their ballots early.

Extra long lines, people getting turned away from the polls and having their cars towed—these were just a few of the problems voters in Florida faced as they tried to take advantage of early voting in the Sunshine State.

Some voters waited six hours—with one Daily Kos contributor reporting standing in line for nine hours—to cast their ballots.

A major reason for the long lines is that the GOP-controlled Legislature had shortened the number of allotted days to vote early from 14 to eight. Republican Gov. Rick Scott has also refused to extend early voting.

One of the days that was taken away was the final Sunday before Election Day. Though some areas allowed voters to turn in their absentee ballots on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., those who did not have a ballot to begin with were turned away. The Miami-Dade elections department was forced to shut down its headquarters in Doral after just two hours because too many people showed up. It was eventually reopened half an hour later amid voter outcry and a tweet from former Gov. Charlie Crist that said plainly enough: “Let the people vote!”

Adding insult to injury, about 180 people’s cars were towed from the parking lot across the street, The Miami Herald reported.

In short, the 2012 election is looking more and more like Florida’s election debacle of 2000.

As Dan Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida, said: “We’re looking at an election meltdown that is eerily similar to 2000, minus the hanging chads.”

The Huffington Post

Smith said that he and Dartmouth professor Michael Herron found that 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.

... Democrats are traditionally more likely to vote early, which is why many in the party have ascribed political motives to Scott’s restriction of the process. According to a report in the Miami Herald on Saturday, Democrats were leading Republicans “by about 187,000 early in-person ballots cast” as of that morning.

On Election Day, there will be fewer polling precincts this year than in 2008—due to redistricting and budget constraints—meaning traffic on Tuesday could also be a problem.

Read more

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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