Long Wait Times at the Polls

Wait times at some South Florida polling stations exceed five hours this afternoon of the first day of early voting. IMHO this is somewhere on a continuum that runs from mismanagement to voter suppression.

You can see the Miami-Dade County Elections deptartment’s own estimates at this printout I made of the Miami-Dade County – Elections – Early Voting Wait Times page just before 4pm today.

Wait times are FIVE AND HALF HOURS at Coral Reef Library. And FIVE HOURS at North Dade Regional Library. Four other locations have wait times of three to five hours. Twelve more are one to three hours. Only two — West Flager Branch Library and Lemon City Library — are under one hour.

I was at the Coral Gables library this morning to return some library books, when the app was showing a two hour wait. The people at the front door of the library — who I would guess were still a good half hour at least from a polling machine — told me that they had been waiting two and half hours to get that far. The line went all the way around the corner and past the long side of the building. It was much too big for me to get a decent photo with my cell phone. The people working the polls told me the line started at 5:30am for the 7:00am opening.

By the time I got there, about mid-day, it was hot.

Indeed, someone collapsed while I was there and the paramedics had to be called out. I hope it wasn’t serious. Or deadly.

I blame Governor Scott and the GOP for cutting early voting days and hours and putting us through this. And I blame the GOP-controlled legislature for our absurdly long ballot.

Meanwhile, all you can do is be prepared: figure out how to vote before you get there so you don’t hold up the line. (I have a downballot cheat sheet if you want one.)

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7 Responses to Long Wait Times at the Polls

  1. Vic says:

    Sounds like you have a real pair of First World problems there…

    The ballot, your chance to have a say in your Government, is TOO LONG!? Really? So sorry for you. I bet this cuts into your blogging time. Seriously though, I didn’t think it was any longer than it always is. I don’t understand why FL does so much legislation by Amendment, but it was not practically worse than usual.

    You had a five hour wait – in a system where you also have 10 days to do it? You do realize that a whole bunch of people suffered a whole lot more than you can even fathom to GIVE you that chance to vote, right? And you do appreciate that in most countries, you get one shot, if even that, on election day. Really, I have zero symphathy for this.

    But I think people should also look around for options and pick their time wisely. I waited an hour, but (literally) three blocks away was another polling place with no wait whatsoever. Yesterday at the same place it was about three hours, I heard. Did you really think voting would be light on the first day of voting at noon?

    None of this has anything to do with the GOP, it has to do with lazy people who think that Government should practically provide them a limo and an empty polling place so that no effort is involved. Tell your “five hour” story to the people standing near you in line that used to have the firehoses turned on them for demanding their civil rights. Or the women in Inlamic countries who only laughably have any rights at all. Or the people in countries where voting for the wrong person can cause you to have the tar beaten out of you – in some cases even if you are the candidate himself.

    Yes it can be improved here, but don’t whine about voter oppression just because there’s no Starbucks selling lattes in the line.

    • I’m going to bet that the author of the above rant: 1) has a job that allows him some control over his hours; 2) does not have an ill relative for whom he is the primary caregiver; 3) is not the primary caregiver for a young child; 4) is in decent health.

      The government has at the very least a moral responsibility to make exercise of the franchise easy. Asking the old and infirm to wait for five hours in the hot sun is an abdication of this responsibility. It is beneath us all.

      There are good reasons not to vote absentee: your signature can be challenged and your vote invalidated and there’s really nothing you can do about it. Indeed, I got an absentee ballot, and now I’m having doubts about it. Furthermore, if you are in any sort of relationship (familial or employment) in which you might be pressured to vote a particular way, only an in-person ballot ensures you can cast your vote free of coercion. Absentee ballots are certainly not a panacea; I actually think they may be a bad thing, or at least way too much of a good thing.

      And yes, I do believe we live in the First World. Thus I do think we can reasonably demand more of ourselves and our governments then can residents of very poor countries.

  2. And another thing: in a well-run world, when there’s a long long ballot, I’d expect elections officials to either put more tables out at the polling locations for people to vote and/or extend (not contract) the days and hours for voting. My point is not simply that the ballot is too long (although I do fault the unnecessarily lengthy summaries) but that given the length no strategy is in place to deal with the inevitable consequences.

  3. Vic says:

    I agree that things could be better, but that’s not the GOP’s fault. It wasn’t all set up the way it is because some Republican could sit in his car and laugh at you in line, or wickedly rub his hands together over the Democrats that can’t vote because of his rules. That’s just tin foil hat thinking.

    Do I think more tables could be put out at polling places? Of course. But they are limited by the volunteers available. Should more people volunteer? Maybe, but nobody in the GOP is stopping any of that. I’m sure the argument is being made by someone that they don’t want the table to volunteer ratio to get so high that security of the vote is therefore compromised (I’m sure you are not for THAT).

    You have legitimate concerns over the elderly and infirm, but do something about THAT then. Have a polling place specifically for those who can’t wait in line for long periods. More than likely, however, that will require some sort of certification to prevent others from taking advantage, which will also result in longer lines elsewhere just to get certified…

    The real problem behind ALL of this is that no politician sees it as in his best interest to actually eliminate fraud and quiet voter suppression. This is the First World. Do you REALLY think that if we wanted to make voting both painless and fraud proof we could not? Get real: Voting is the way it is because the politicians in your district see it as being in their best interest to keep it that way. Whether YOU agree with it or not.

    And yes, I don have a job where I am off on Saturday and Sunday. Quite the shocker there. But I would assert that there are probably very FEW people who in the space of 10 days or so of voting time, will not have a day to vote. And most of the time, it will not take anywhere near 5 hours. I went by both of my possible polling places multiple times yesterday, there was never more than an hour wait at one, and never even a line at the other. (The second was positioned at the heart of an African-American neighborhood, so nobody was keeping the black vote down there…)

    And the way you deal with lengthy summaries, is to do your DUTY as a voter and familiarize yourself with the issues on the ballot before you go. You don’t actually READ the Amendment summaries in their entirety at the polling place do you? You learn what they are, figure out where you stand, take notes if necessary for memory, then go vote. Start reading, when you recognize which one is in front of you, make your vote. What’s so damn hard or time-consuming about that? And how did the GOP affect this?

    I’m not without sympathy and understanding, but blaming the GOP for this is ridiculously tin-foil-hatted.

    • Here is some evidence that the GOP is in fact to blame for all the new rules making voting more difficult.

    • Luis says:

      The evidence indeed shows that the shortened early voting period, the long and awkwardly-worded constitutional amendement ballot questions, and the efforts to make voting more difficult for specific categories of citizens, can be laid straight at the feet of the Florida GOP. This is not being paranoid–this is simply recognizing and accepting the facts.

      This is why this election, this Republican will be voting straight Democrat ticket, and *against* any candidate or issue supported by the Florida GOP, and every straw poller within earshot of the voting line will know about it and why. I certainly hope other Republicans recognize that real conservatives respect the individual’s freedom over the power of the state, and certainly do not try to apply the power of the state to limit such freedom when it suits them. I can’t find any Democrats on the ballot right now who are as willing to throw their principles out the window when thet are no longer convenient as the current crop of Florida Republicans.

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