Monday, November 3, 2008

Long Lines

The last day of early voting in Florida was yesterday (Sunday), and there were still many people waiting in line when the polls closed.

Those already in line when the polls closed — at 4 p.m. in Broward and 5 p.m. in Miami-Dade — were allowed to stay however long it took.

At times throughout the day on Sunday, elections officials estimated waits of six hours or longer in both Broward and Miami-Dade.

That didn’t deter voters.

”Once they got in line, it wasn’t easy to get them to consider [another way of voting],” said Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. ”People are just excited about the opportunity, and they’re staying there and getting it done.”

Early voters in Aventura were still casting ballots after 10 p.m.

Officials in both counties predict a smooth Nov. 4 without the long waits that defined early voting.

”I think we’ll be looking good on Election Day,” said Christina White, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Office.

By the end of the day Saturday, 231,581 people had voted early in Broward and 100,488 absentee ballots had been returned. That is almost 33 percent of the county’s registered voters.

In Miami-Dade, 301,202 people cast early ballots and 144,296 had returned absentee ballots in the same period. That is more than 35 percent of Miami-Dade’s registered voters.

And those numbers do not include the thousands who voted on Sunday.

Both counties’ elections officials predict an ultimate turnout of about 80 percent.

Eighty percent. Wow. That would be the largest turnout in my memory of watching elections. And if that includes the newly registered voters, which are overwhelmingly Democratic, this could result in the L-word.