Elections 2012: Florida Early Voting Faces Controversy

It seems like problematic early voting in Florida has already become a tradition.

Florida and its problems at the polls are at the center of an election again. Photo: Rachel Maddow/Flickr

This year’s early voting appeared to be a nightmare for voters, who spent plenty of time standing long lines in the sun.

Which is more, a Republican governor, Rick Scott, has refused to budge and extend early voting hours: “People are getting out to vote. That’s what’s very good,” he said.

People who’ve decided on voting before the election day are having to wait in line for three or four hours to do so.

According to The Huffington Post, in Miami-Dade on Saturday, people who had gotten in line by 7:00 p.m. were allowed to vote; the last person wasn’t checked in until 1 a.m., meaning it took some individuals six hours to cast a ballot.

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

Miami-Dade tried to solve the problem on Sunday by allowing potential voters to cast absentee ballots in person between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m.

However, two hours later, the Miami-Dade elections department closed the location as too many people showed up. People outside the locked doors were reportedly screaming, “We want to vote!”

“They didn’t have the infrastructure,” filmmaker Lucas Leyva, who was among those turned away, told reporters.

“We read the press release and everything that went out this morning, promising we’d be able to get absentee ballots and vote. We got here and there was a line of hundreds of people all being told the same thing, that that wasn’t true anymore. You could drop off [a ballot], but they could not issue one.”

Former Republican governor Charlie Crist – who is now an independent – took to Twitter to respond to news of the office’s closing, writing: “Let the people vote!”

“We had the best of intentions to provide this service today,” said department spokeswoman Christina White. “We just can’t accommodate it to the degree that we would like to.”

Following a streams of complaints from voters, the Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit early Sunday to force the state government to extend early voting hours in South Florida.

“The extraordinarily long lines deterred or prevented voters from waiting to vote,” the lawsuit states. “Some voters left the polling sites upon learning of the expected wait, and others refused to line up altogether. These long lines and extreme delays unduly and unjustifiably burdened the right to vote.”

State elections officials reported that by Saturday night, 3.9 million Floridians had either cast absentee ballots or voted early.

“Because of Governor Scott’s refusal to follow precedent and extend early voting hours in the face of unprecedented voter turnout in South Florida, we are requesting in federal court that more Floridians have a meaningful chance to early vote,” said Rod Smith, the chairman of the Florida Democratic Party.

Florida is expected to be tight in the upcoming elections. According to HuffPost Pollster’s average of polls in the race, the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is now leading Obama in the state by less than one percentage point.

Share this article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.