Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Voted

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?”

6:40 a.m.

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.

7:40 a.m.

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.

The Minister of Doom.

Crossing into the “No Campaign Zone.”

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.

5 barks and woofs on “I Voted

  1. Now do you understand why voting a month from the actual DAY, Nov.6th, makes such sense? We went to the Wood County Board of Elections in Bowling Green, 20 minutes down the highway, on Oct.2nd. About four people were being checked at the desk and three voting machines already occupied. It took all of a half hour total and we avoided the lines, the hassle from True The Vote and the worry that the Deibold machines would chew up our votes. This has been something I have had concerns about since I worked as a poll worker where two machines malfunctioned and who knows what happened to the votes inside.

    You can see why Florida is ground zero for mishandled ballots and discouraged voters. Is there any possibility it might turn blue in this century?

  2. It took me rughly 5 mins. to vote. Here in Tx. all you have to do is circle one for straight party, which I did. The 2nd ballot was 4 spots for the board of education. It took me longer to sign in and find a place to park than to vote.

  3. On the 2nd day of early voting, it took us 1½ hours in line after we arrived at the polling place. People were polite and patient, and I’m glad we got it done before the crowds got any worse. But I have to admit that 1½ hours is a rather long time for a cripple on a cane and a big boot to stand… move two feet… stand… move two feet… etc.

    Later I read that Tabb Rmoney owns part of the company that makes our Hart InterCivic eSlate machines. So my vote may disappear into the void. One can only do so much…

  4. Great post! I went to Coral Reef Library as well (a couple times). I got there on Thursday at 7 AM and was 7th in line outside. By 7:45 AM, we had not moved and were told it would be a 2 to 3 hour wait.

    On Friday at 6 AM, I made my way back. When asked if I was from Palmetto Bay, I kept quiet (who wants to talk politics at 6 AM?). By 7:40 AM, I had voted.

    The amendments were a mystery; they could have been written in Taiwanese for all the difference it made.

    I was happy to see we didn’t have to deal with any computer errors, or punch ballots. The fill-in of the circles and scanning made sense.

    Hopefully they come up with a better solution for 2016, but am so happy people had the determination to stand there and let their voice be heard.

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