There were already a lot of people waiting in line to vote when I arrived at the Coral Reef Library in Perrine at 6:40 a.m. this morning. Today is the last day of early voting in Florida, so I expected that there would be a lot of people showing up, and I was right. I had to park a block away, and when I got to the end of the line, it wound from the entrance to the library around back, across the parking lot and down the other side of the lot to the front of the fire station next door. When I got there, I asked, “Is this the line for Star Wars?”
As you can see, it was dark, but as the sun came up, I could see that there were probably three to four hundred people already in line. When the doors opened at 7:00, the line started to move slowly but steadily and within fifteen minutes or so, I was across the parking lot. I was still outside the “No Campaigning” zone, so a lot of people, including candidates, were passing out information, sample ballots, and asking if anyone lived in certain towns and villages, such as Palmetto Bay. I learned quickly not to answer because they would descend like flies on trash until you plead for mercy.
The line ground to halt after an hour; the closer I got, the slower it went. The campaigners got friendlier, even offering coffee and water. But there was one stern man sitting in a folding chair next to an easel with bible verses and a drawing of Christ on a cross, apparently inveighing against certain candidates and positions, but I didn’t ask.
Finally I crossed over into the “No Campaign Zone” and twenty minutes later approached the door, and forty minutes later I actually walked into the library. At last, I thought; I’m into the home stretch. Then I saw that the line snaked up and down every aisle between the bookshelves and it would be another hour before I reached the door to the room where they kept the Holy of Holies, the actual ballots. After presenting my photo ID and registration card, I received a ballot and found an empty carrell where I could fill in the ballot. It was 10:15 a.m.
The ballot, including the national, state, and county, and local issues, was twelve pages long. Thanks to the Republican state legislature, they now required that all ballot measures, including constitutional amendments, be written out in full, and in three languages: English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. Thanks to some early prep work and some intuition (vote against local candidates whose signs appeared on the same lawn as those with Romney/Ryan and Connie Mack signs), it took me fifteen minutes to very carefully fill in all the little bubbles the right way… at least for me.
But once you’ve done that, you’re not done. The ballot then needed to be scanned. I went to the lobby of the library where I was guided to a scanner and entered each page one by one. I touched the screen button marked “FINISHED” and got an electronic “Thanks / Gracias / Merci.” The poll worker handed me a little sticker that said “I Voted Today!”
I left the library at 10:35 a.m., three hours and fifty-five minutes after I arrived. The line was still as long as it was when I arrived, the people were still waiting patiently, and more were arriving. I put the top down on the Mustang and drove home.