I Voted! But It Wasn’t as Easy as It Should’ve Been

Long lines at the polls in Florida are evidence that the GOP's effort to dampen early voting is working.

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Alan Diaz / AP

Voters stand in line during the fourth day of early voting in North Miami, Oct. 30, 2012, as Floridians cast early ballots.

I tried to vote early on Saturday, but there were two-hour lines at the only open polling station in South Beach. So I gave up. I tried again Monday, but the wait was still an hour and a half. So I decided to come back Tuesday. It took 45 minutes in line, plus 15 minutes wading through 10 pages of intentionally incomprehensible ballot questions, but I voted. If I didn’t have such a flexible work schedule—and if I didn’t write about public policy for a living—maybe I wouldn’t have.

This is why Governor Rick Scott and Florida’s Republican legislature eliminated nearly half of our state’s early voting days this year: They don’t want to make it easier for Floridians to vote, because high turnout favors Democrats. As I wrote in the magazine last week, federal judges and local election officials have blocked most of the GOP’s efforts to make voting harder across the nation, from voter-ID restrictions to convoluted registration rules to new limits on early voting.

But they haven’t blocked everything, and in a close election, minor inconveniences could make a major difference.

In Florida, for example, Scott’s massive campaign to purge the state’s voter rolls flopped, because 99.9% of the 182,000 voters on his purge list turned out to be legit. And a federal judge struck down a draconian Republican law that made it nearly impossible for nonprofits to register new voters. But that law was on the books for 10 months, setting back registration efforts in the state. And while the first few days of early voting in Florida have seen record turnout, it’s unlikely that 2012’s eight days will attract as many early votes as 2008’s 15 days. The GOP has killed voting on the last weekend before the election, including the Sunday that black churches have used to move “Souls to the Polls.” Judging from the scene at Miami Beach City Hall, that could mean chaos on Election Day, and not all Floridians have jobs that allow them to take an extended break to vote.

I suspect that Obama will lose Florida and win the election anyway. But it’s interesting to see that the polls show him winning the state among registered voters and losing among likely voters. It’s a cliché to say that the election will come down to turnout—all elections come down to turnout—but if Obama’s voters got to the polls, he would win. It’s not a coincidence that in a swing state that was decided by a few hundred votes not that long ago, Republicans have made it harder to get to the polls.

167 comments
gsmaurer
gsmaurer

Person of the Year - these great Americans who take the responsibility of citizenship seriously enough to persevere despite the numerous obstacles ranging from voter inconvenience to voter suppression to vote theft. Though I have been eligible and have voted since 78, I have never had the struggles that many are experiencing to vote in this election.

yingwear
yingwear

I overall thought your article was informative, but I guess I view voting from a different view.  Voting is a right and a responsibility.  However, I do not believe in the "herd mentality" when it comes to voter registration.  I was chomping at the bit as an 18 year old and sat in my car and filled out a Montana ballot for the 1988 Presidential elections while in the state of Idaho attending college.  You see, I, at 18 was able to request an absentee ballot and even responsible enough to fill it out and send it back.

This notion of early voting, in my opnion, is a waste of taxpayer dollars to staff the polling stations and leave extensive room for error and manipulation.

If a constituent is not able to comprehend how to order an absentee ballot or unable to make sacrifices to get to the polls, then it we probably don't want their input in matters of election anyway. 

My husband and i now have 2 children in college.  One came home specifically to do early voting and waited over two hours in line and the other is submitting a absentee ballot.  If they are capable of figuring it out and making arrangments, others can do the same.

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

Romney’s abdication of any pretense to constancy should have been the  major character issue.

I agree completely!

donnybp
donnybp

I voted today and it was a lot easier than I thought. I live in Florida and decided to vote via absentee ballot this year. I got the ballot sent to my house, filled it out at my convenience, then took it to the supervisor of elections office to drop it off. Very different from last year. I went to vote early last year and stood in line for 2 hours before I got to vote. I didn't want to do that again this year. As I passed the same location this year, the line looked just as long as last years. I hope that many others took advantage of what I did this year, and I really hope that people don't get put off to voting early. Ideally I would love to see early voters maintain their resolve and "vote no matter what"!! This will prove that any republican effort to suppress the democratic vote is useless and completely unnecessary.

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

*ORLANDO SENTINEL: VOTE NO

"Attention Florida voters: Just say 'N' to all 11 constitutional amendments on the November ballot. And don't be fooled by their high-minded and compassionate-sounding, but intentionally deceptive, titles. They are not what they seem... These 11 amendments are part of disturbing trend in Florida to ensconce ultra-radical priorities near-permanently in the Constituion. They are issues more properly left to legislation, if addressed at all. Prove to members of the Legislature that they can't fool you. Reject them all." -- Sept. 2, 2012, editorial position written by Stephen Goldstein.

 

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

VOTE NO on all 11Amendments!League of Women Voters of Florida OPPOSESALL 11 AMENDMENTS to the Florida Constitution on the November 2012 ballot.SOURCE:www.theFloridaVoter.org

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

May I note again how utterly annoying it is when the Show More Comments button doesn't work?

notsacredh
notsacredh

It hasn't stopped raining for one minute in the last three days here.

mickey66049
mickey66049

At least the more draconian measures of Governor Rick Scott have been nipped in the bud. If Romney wins Florida by 536 votes, as Bush allegedly did in 2000, we won't have Ralph Nader to blame this time around (I believe). But the Supreme Corporation will give the state to Romney instead of authorizing the otherwise automatic recount, just as it did in 2000. That obviously partisan ruling is one reason the Court is held in such contempt by so many people--that plus the Koch Brothers' ownership of Justices Scalia and Thomas.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

"...there were two-hour lines at the only open polling station in South Beach"

Upstate we have at least six early-voting places - two less than three blocks from each other.  Took all of twn minutes to vote - stupid amendments included.

In Duval County over 16% of all registered voters have voted.

Lurch has proven that he cannot lead - that's why he'll be on his way out in two years.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@PeterCalvet 

People create corporations. People own and work for corporations.

But without people there are no corporations. So no ' corporations' - a legal document - is NOT a person.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@CerebralSmartie Thanks for the info Smartie.  I'll just say that Republicans in Florida always come out against amending the state constitution as a principle until its something they want and then they're all for it.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

@Ivy_B I have another quirk:  I figured out my "like" button only works when sorted by "newest", not "oldest."  And even then, it randomly stops working, mid page.  Am I only allowed to like two or three things at once?  Annoying.  

I cannot sort by oldest on my phone.  At least half the time, Firefox doesn't load the comments on the first try (all applicable cookies are allowed.)  I have had comments get randomly eaten.  Repeatedly.  "Show More Comments" is a crap shoot.  And no edit function!  :(

Someone help!  High Sheriffs, please!

outsider
outsider

@Ivy_B 

We should compile a list of the issues and see if Adam can fix them. 

Though not today; i suspect he's busy... 

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@Ivy_B Have you gotten the "Oldest" button to work...reliably? (i.e. when # of comments > 20)

anon76
anon76

@Ivy_B Oh the irony, Ivy.  Yours was the last comment before the dreaded "Show more comments" button, which of course does not work.  I guess the good news is that if paule is busy endthreading then I don't have to know about it.

notsacredh
notsacredh

kbang, the river has risen 10 feet in two days. We're still predicted to crest well below flood stage. On the plus side, it's been slow at work because of the high water. It rained non-stop yesterday and traffic has almost stopped.

Troubador222
Troubador222

@nflfoghorn  In Cape Coral, we have one early voting place.and a population of over 100,000 people. I have gone twice, and the wait was over 3 hours.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

...all of ten minutes

[Disqusted]

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Great and Powerful Nate keeps showing FL as leaning Momney though the latest polls show a slight BO uptick.  I hope Nate's wrong here.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@outsider2011 And since Romney has never approached the required number of electoral votes this race has never been close.  The conclusion being that Mitt Romney's candidacy is largely a media creation.  A sad statement to be sure.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@outsider2011 Y'know, I was reading his article today and had a depressing thought: all the years where State Polls were worse than National Polls were years where the debates ended up significantly shifting the race.

That said, state polling has become far more comprehensive in recent years so....it might not be an issue.  1980 which had the biggest fluctuation for both was also the year that there weren't nearly enough polls after the debate to recognize the shift in the race.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@outsider2011 

I keep making the case here that our election should be decided by popular vote but none of the righties here will ever agree with me.  Maybe after this election they will (though I doubt it).

ahandout
ahandout

@MrObvious @PeterCalvet  Corporations are treated as individuals legally.  I know that makes liberals crazy.  A fetus is not a person, but a corporations is.  Ironic, your favorite word.  

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

And I cannot make comments using Discus, as I used to do. 

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@AlistairCookie @Ivy_B For me the Like button is as sporadic as the Show More Comments button. As I said above, I gave up on my favored sort by oldest because I often couldn't see anything new. Sigh. Perhaps we are being punished by the ghost of Disqus for being so mean.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@kbanginmotown No. That's one of the many things I've given up on and I just let it sort by newest.

roknsteve
roknsteve

Buttons?  What buttons?  I'm lucky I can even reply on this new system.  And "Show more Comments" doesn't work.

 Obama?Biden 2012

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@anon76 @Ivy_B 

Since his bio lists him as living in New York, I'm assuming he's without power at the moment.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@nflfoghorn Agreed. Although I don't want Nate to be wrong all over.

Here Up North, TPM has Michigan as a tossup, while Nate gives Obama a 98% chance of winning.

Sometimes I imagine Nate lording over a conference table full of printouts with one of those air-sniffer thingies that Bill Murray had in "Ghostbusters". And, when any of us mushrooms asks, "What is it?", he furrows his brow and says:"It's Technical"...  

anon76
anon76

@nflfoghorn Actually, as of today he's got FL listed as a tossup (which I gather is between a 40-60% chance of electing the Democratic candidate).  While the last four polls have shown Obama slightly ahead or with a tie, none of them are significantly different than a tied race (the last significant poll advantage was over a week ago, and that one went to Romney).  In such cases Nate's model relies on the state fundamentals (basically how the state voted relative to the national average in the last election) to figure out which way it will go.  The fact that Obama's narrowing the polls is a promising sign, but at least as far as Nate's model Obama's got an uphill battle to get over the state fundamental deficit.  On the other hand, Florida is a state I could see having a large indirect effect from the storm.  If Floridians see the devastation on the tv and are reminded that Romney wants to break FEMA down to a state-level agency, then perhaps a decisive number of voters will decide the next hurricane season under a Romney administration would be pretty unpleasant.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@nflfoghorn Foggy, as sad as it is to say, I think you and I are going to have to wait a while before our states return to sanity.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@Fla4Me @outsider2011 I've been wondering what this election (and Willard's chances) would look like if Teh Media had done their jobs from the very beginning and called out every lie, every flip-flop, every pivot away from a previous position (and, yes, do it for Obama, too; I'm a big girl, I can take it). What if they had eplained Willard's record as governor of Massachusetts? Explained what Bain, and companies like it, really do?

What if they hadn't been so determined to have a horse race and given us an actual campaign?

What if they had taken seriously their obligation to educate and inform American voters? To explain how government and the economy actually work? To explain what happens when you have one entire legislative body doing its damnedest to keep government from working?

We need an actual political press in this country. What we've got are a bunch of slackers who just want to be seen as the cool kids.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@DonQuixotic @outsider2011 Too much risk. The RWers are first going to try to bring in "Proportional Electoral Votes"...only in Blue States, mind you...to chip away at the Dems's EV lead.

In a state like mine (MI), with a GOP controlled State House & Senate, it could mean that instead of 16 (mostly) solid Blue Votes, they could wind up being split 10/6 or 9/7, Blue/Red. Do this in enough Blue States (but not in the Red ones), and you've got an even closer horse race in the Electoral College.

This concerns me in 2016 and beyond...

Sue_N
Sue_N

@DonQuixotic @outsider2011 If Willard wins the popular vote but not the electoral vote, I believe we'll have righties screeching to abolish the electoral college. Then the next time their guy loses the popular vote, they'll be screeching to bring back the EC.

They're kind of predictable with their whining.

dawnorthen
dawnorthen

@ahandout @DonQuixotic @PeterCalvet wait you think corporations are people too?are you.... are you daft man? what, pray tell, is the definition of a PERSON? what is the definition of a person to your enfeebled ill used mind?

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Cue the "both sides do it!" TIME meme....

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@nflfoghorn Another reason I'm so irritated that the "disappointed" left stayed home in 2010. We have got to retake the state legislatures for the next census redistricting or get it done by a nonpartisan commission.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Probably so, but that takes redistricting....

BTW Momney was supposed to speak @ our 15K-seat arena today but the venue got shifted to a nearby park that holds 8,000.  Nothin' like firing up the dwindling base.

filmnoia
filmnoia

Sue_N -

The print and TV media aren't out to inform the public. Theirprime focus is to make money, which you do by selling advertising space and TV commercials. The more you make an election a "horse race" the more the public becomes involved, the more they read and watch, and hence, the more these organizations can charge for advertising. It's quite simple. Honest reporting gets tossed out the window. This is precisely why we have a robust alternative press, and why print media, especially, is slowly going out of business.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Loved seeing Momney dodge all the qustions about getting rid of FEMA - just like he ducked questions about his tax returns.  His whole campaign has been one gigantic "trust me," with the truth tied up in an enigma.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@outsider2011 I know Nate's process and I know his model, but I'm specifically countering his argument for today.  When I do my own analysis, I end up with the same answer he does: Approximately tied race nationally, clear Obama lead in the States.  I also accept his premise that this is inconsistent and the standard explanations don't answer the inconsistency - resulting in the conclusion that there is an inconsistency between the two sets of data and trying to reason between them.  Now, one reasonable argument is that the Gallup tracker, which accounts for 12% of the overall model, is skewed way to the right at the moment, but I'm hesitant to accept this argument because it presumes that there isn't an equal number of polls skewed to the left that make up for that temporary bias and, as noted in the article you linked, this isn't inconsistent with what we've seen at other points in the race (mind you, it's possible that both Gallup and Rasmussen who seem to regularly be red a few points from comprehensive polls have been largely to blame, in which case I'm asking the question of why that might be).  But regardless, Nate was arguing today that it's entirely possible that the national averages are just plain wrong more often than the state-based conclusions even in predicting the national vote and that, in effect, justifies him for putting a National Average estimate that is based upon what the state polls tell him rather than what the national polls tell him.  I'm providing a counter-argument for why state polls may be less reliable this cycle

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@kbanginmotown @DonQuixotic @outsider2011 Our Republican governor and the Repub legislature that the folks who didn't vote in 2010 brought in were planning to pass a Proportional Electoral Vote, which would have taken PA off the map. It was stopped because it would have had the unintended consequence of making some now Repub congressional districts harder to win. I know that they will try it again.

filmnoia
filmnoia

The GOP is primarily white and male, so entitlement and privilege is who they are. No one is a better Poster Boy for that than Willard. What chance he has to win is predicated on playing to the resentment and bigotry of the working class voterss. If these people had a clue he would barely get 30% of the vote.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@filmnoia Oh, believe me, I don't expect them to change at all. If Obama won both the EV and PV with absolutely crushing margins, they'd still whine and bitch. It's who they are.

They complain about "entitlements," yet they are the most entitled people on earth. They and they alone should be in charge, never mind the fact that they suck at it.

filmnoia
filmnoia

Sue_N -

If Obama wins by any combo of the EVs or popular vote, the Reich Wing will scream anyway. This is who they are. You don't think for a minute that they aren't for the next 4 years  going to do anything different than they have been doing for the last 4? Especially since it seems that the prime obstructor, McConnell, is going to find himself once again in minority status a week from now.