The Sunshine State wasn't the clincher this time, but voting was still a messy businessby Diane Roberts / November 8, 2012 / Leave a comment
Maybe it’s a tragic desire for attention, maybe it’s a cry for help (democracy is tough!), maybe it’s a heady mix of corruption and incompetence. In any case, my home state of Florida is trying its best to relive the glories of the 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George W Bush. We’re still counting votes.
You remember 2000: 35 fun-filled days of hanging chads, disenfranchised voters and lawsuits, until the Supreme Court finally stepped in and chose Bush. Florida hadn’t had so much excitement since the last election we stole, back in 1876. You can’t blame us for wanting to recapture the glory days.
But this time, Barack Obama’s been re-elected without us. Although Florida is the last to declare a winner (Obama will take the state by a whisker), it really doesn’t matter. Ohio and Virginia already sealed the deal. Don’t expect us to go quietly. Newspapers, pundits and officials from the White House down are criticising Florida’s messy election practices: the long, long queues to vote, the confusion over what identification is required, the lack of adequate poll workers and the malfunctioning machines. Florida’s Republican leaders remain defiant.
It isn’t 2000, but it isn’t pretty, either. A historian at the University of South Florida, David Johnson, went to cast his ballot on the way to taking part in a panel on disenfranchisement. But when he arrived to vote, he found his name had been removed from the rolls. Some voters in Palm Beach County had to queue for eight hours. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters reports that many elderly people could not stand for the long waits in densely populated south Florida and left without casting a ballot. In an email to the League, one woman wrote, “There is something very stupid about the system of voting here in Florida.”
“Stupid” is one word for what’s going on. I’m partial to “deliberate” and “criminal,” too. Governor Rick Scott, former CEO of a private hospital corporation which defrauded the federal government and was slapped with the largest fine ($1.7bn) in history, has been doing his best to gum up the electoral works. Along with the Republican legislature,…