Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Monday, November 5, 2012



Americans like to brag about American exceptionalism.  But when the greatest country in the world makes voting an endurance battle and struggle, that's the sort of exceptionalism you'd think we'd avoid.

I'm talking about Florida.  And Ohio.  Both states run by Republican governors and important in tomorrow's election.  Early voting in Florida is proving to be a nightmare, and GOP Governor Scott is pretending he cares. 

"Early voting is supposed to make it easier for people to carry out their constitutional right. Tuesdays are notoriously inconvenient to take off work, so many states have given voters the option of turning out on weekends or other weekdays in the run-up to Election Day.

But in Florida this year, it has been a nightmare for voters, who have faced record wait times, long lines in the sun and a Republican governor, Rick Scott, who has refused to budge and extend early voting hours.


"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 attempted to deal with the problem on Sunday by allowing voters to cast absentee ballots in person between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. However, after just two hours, the Miami-Dade elections department shut down the location after 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 The Huffington Post's Janie Campbell. "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."

And if getting turned away from the polls weren't enough of an indignity, some of those 180 people ended up getting their cars towed from the parking lot across the street, according to a Miami Herald reporter.

On Twitter, former Republican governor Charlie Crist -- who is now an independent -- responded to news of the office's closing, writing on Twitter, "Let the people vote!"--HuffPost


A last-minute directive issued by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) could invalidate legal provisional ballots. Ohio is widely viewed as the most critical state for both presidential campaigns and — with some polls showing a close race — the 11th-hour move could swing the entire election.

The directive, issued Friday, lays out the requirements for submitting a provisional ballot. The directive includes a form which puts the burden on the voter to correctly record the form of ID provided to election officials. Husted also instructed election officials that if the form is not filled out correctly by a voter, the ballot should not be counted. --HuffPost
 Oct. 24 court hearing.”
Indeed, it also appears directly contrary to Ohio law. From the lawsuit:

Ohio Rev. Code § 3505.181(B)(6) provides that, once a voter casting a provisional ballot proffers identification, “the appropriate local election official shall record the type of identification provided, the social security number information, the fact that the affirmation was executed, or the fact that the individual declined to execute such an affirmation and include that information with the transmission of the ballot . . . .” (Emphasis added.)
The law “ensures that any questions regarding a voter’s identification are resolved on the spot or, consistent with due process, the voter is informed that he or she needs to provide additional information to the board of elections. This protects the integrity of the voting process, and provides a reasonable opportunity to resolve deficiencies.”

The last-minute directive changes this and switches the burden to the voter, greatly increasing the chances that legal provisional ballots will be discarded." --ThinkProgress

There's something rotten in Florida and Ohio. 

Why the lines are so long in Florida and Ohio

 Think about this when you prepare to vote: 

NY Times Editorial: "This Year, Voting Is An Act of Defiance Against Malicious Forces"

This year, voting is more than just the core responsibility of citizenship; it is an act of defiance against malicious political forces determined to reduce access to democracy. Millions of ballots on Tuesday — along with those already turned in — will be cast despite the best efforts of Republican officials around the country to prevent them from playing a role in the 2012 election.

Even now, many Republicans are assembling teams to intimidate voters at polling places, to demand photo ID where none is required, and to cast doubt on voting machines or counting systems whose results do not go their way.


OY!  It's not just Florida and Ohio:

Arizona GOP Senate Candidate Robocalls Democrats And Tells Them To Vote In The Wrong Place


Leslie Parsley said...

It's not just Florida and Ohio. These Republicans, who convinced state legislatures and the idiots-at-large, that there was wide-spread voter fraud all across this land, are the ones who are in fact committing the fraud. If these domestic terrorists win, there will be no recourse and there will never be another free election.

KP said...

@Shaw I don't remember early voting ever resulting in long lines.

In your view, why is this election different?

Shaw Kenawe said...

Here's a report from the Tampa Bay Times:

The pictures of early voters on TV look like crowds waiting to ride Space Mountain.

Hour after hour, people stand in line for the "convenience" of early voting. The National Campaign for Fair Elections says a three-hour wait is a big problem, but Secretary of State Kurt Browning says it's a sign of a healthy democracy.

In frustration, some voters fault election supervisors for too few sites or machines. But there's a bigger culprit — the Legislature.

Three years ago, legislators passed a huge elections bill (HB 1567). Some changes were voter-friendly, such as allowing anyone to request an absentee ballot without having to give a reason why.

The bill also limited early voting to eight hours a day, and to no more than eight hours on a weekend. That did away with 12-hour early voting sessions for people who work long hours.

The law also limited early voting sites to elections offices, libraries and city halls even though elections officials wanted to use other sites.

Democratic legislators voted against the bill and suspected the shorter hours were a Republican plot to suppress the Democratic turnout.

"Not true," the sponsor, Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, said Friday. "The whole purpose behind it was to have uniformity."

Every GOP lawmaker from Tampa Bay voted for the bill, including some on the Nov. 4 ballot: Sens. Mike Fasano and Charlie Dean and Reps. Faye Culp and John Legg, to name a few. Every Democrat in the bay area voted against it.


skudrunner said...

I'm sure it is a right wing conspiracy, as most things that the govt messes up it is the conservatives fault.

Maybe we can go back to hanging chads.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Now, as his constituents stand in line for hours to vote, Rep. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat, says the early voting change was no accident.

"They did it on purpose," Gelber said. "This was a rank antidemocracy power grab."

All nine Democrats in the state's congressional delegation sent Browning a letter, urging him to expand early voting hours next week and to require the early voting sites to be open Sunday. Browning says he has no plans "at this time" to do so, and it is not clear that he has that power.

As of Thursday, 609,000 people voted early. Democrats had a big lead, further evidence that Democrats are more likely to vote early while Republicans tend to request absentee ballots more.

In a conference call between Browning and county elections officials Friday, Lee County Supervisor Sharon Harrington said the Legislature should allow more sites.

Guess who lives in Lee County? Reagan's parents. He said they have delayed voting early because of long lines.

"We're still making it easier to vote than it was 20 years ago," Reagan said, "but if we can continue to improve it, we should."

Florida has something called the "early voting wait time clock." Supervisors in Miami-Dade and Broward now list expected wait times on their Web sites.

In Broward, home of the longest ballot and the most Democrats of any county in Florida, the wait was four hours at Miramar City Hall on Friday.

Browning wants more counties to use it. "That is an innovative idea," he said.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at or (850) 224-7263 .

[Last modified: Oct 27, 2008 04:40 PM]

Copyright 2008 Tampa Bay Times

Silverfiddle said...

The more important question is, why did all these people wait until the last minute?

Also, how would shorter voting hours only discourage Democrat voters and not Republicans?

I think we all agree the law must be followed, but much of the reasoning in the pieces you feature is specious at best.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Why would any state pass laws to make it more difficult, rather than easier to vote?

We are the third most populous nation on Earth. The idea that voting for all our citizens can be done in one day, or even one weekend, is absurd!

There is no excuse for long lines. Every governor in this country knows there's a presidential election every four years, so why the chaos now?

We're supposed to be the paragon of democracy in action for the world, and we can't get it right?


(O)CT(O)PUS said...

This morning, I contacted a lawyer and a number of very angry voters to start a class action suit against my voting district and the State of Florida.

Win, lose or draw - I intend to make the neo-fascists squirm. More later ...

Rational Nation USA said...

Paragon of a democratic republic. Not a democracy, a rather large detail that somehow seems to escape progressives.

But yes, it would seem with our system and technology we should be able to make voting more "user friendly" rather than less. AND reduce voter fraud as well.

Shaw Kenawe said...

RN: "Paragon of a democratic republic. Not a democracy, a rather large detail that somehow seems to escape progressives."

RN, America was founded as a republic. But what is America today? America is still a republic. One that uses a democratic process to maintain its political leadership. Obviously a republic couldn't exist without the democratic process, so it follows that America is also a democracy. Its defining characteristic is that power ultimately rests with the people.

The Oxford Dictionary defines democracy as: "Government by the whole people of a country, especially through representatives whom they elect".

RN, you continue to be sarcastic and pompous here; and on your blog, dismissive of my comments. ["Yada, yada, yada" is not what anyone would call a reasonable reply to a reasonable comment. But that's what you replied to me.]

Perhaps you're p.o.'d at how this election is firming up, so you take your anger out by insulting progressives? Not cool.

Please note that while you don't insult me specifically, you always slam progressives. Again. Not cool.

SF: "The more important question is, why did all these people wait until the last minute?"

I don't know what you mean by that.

See below for what's going on in Republican controlled Florida.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Last night, voters in Miami-Dade County were forced to wait in line up to six hours to vote. In some precincts voters who arrived at 7PM were not able to cast their ballots until 1AM.

In response, Republican-affiliated election officials in Miami-Dade have effectively extended early voting from 1PM to 5PM today by allowing “in-person” absentee voting. But this accommodation will only be available in a single location in the most Republican area of the county.

Nearly every city within 5 to 10 miles of this location — including Hialeah, Miami Springs, Sweetwater and Miami Lakes — has a substantial Republican voter registration advantage.

The most populous city among those is Hialeah where Republicans, powered by a large Cuban community, have an overwhelming registration advantage of nearly 20,000 voters. There will not be an opportunity for in-person absentee voting in downtown Miami or South Dade, where there are heavy concentrations of Democratic voters.

The decision to make the accommodation available was presumably made by Miami-Dade Election Supervisor Penelope Townsley. She is registered with no party affiliation but was appointed to her position by Republican Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Mayor Gimenez did not request Gov. Rick Scott extend early voting throughout Miami-Dade county. Further, according to Jim DeFede, an investigative reporter for CBS News in Miami, the decision to have in-person absentee balloting was made last night but not announced publicly until 9:30AM this morning.

Requests for comment from the Miami-Dade Election Department were not immediately returned.

The Miami Herald reports that Miami-Dade abruptly closed the single voting location after less than 2 hours


At 3PM, election officials announced they’ve changed their mind and will re-open the early voting location.

via ThinkProgress

Rational Nation USA said...

Shaw, duly noted.

Shaw Kenawe said...

BTW, RN, it's interesting that you never, never use sarcastic jabs at progressives over at The Swash Zone, but do so here, and at me whenever I post at your place.

You are a veritable paragon of good humor and gentility there.

Why is that?

Dave Miller said...

Silver, who waited until the last minute? Doesn't the very definition of early voting argue against that interpretation?

The facts show that these lines, at least in Florida, have existed since almost the day the polls opened for early voting.

A better question might be why former GOP Governors Crist and Bush decided to extend early voting, to the benefit of Florida voters.

Governor Scott is not saying it is a cost issue, so it is reasonable to ask why he might be doing this.

You are very quick to, and repeatedly call the reasoning of the progressives here specious, yet you seldom return to answer direct refutations of your logic, or questions about your point of view.

As for whether or not Dems or the GOP is impacted more by this, all we can do is go to the tape... which has Republicans on record saying that they were targeting early voting because it hampered the Dems.

Also, we might ask why the most strident critics of early voting seem to overwhelmingly lean to the Republican side.

Here's a nice link where GOP leaders have been very vocal in their support of early voting cutbacks to give Romney an advantage and to suppress urban voters.

Apparently these GOP leaders believe that early voting does in fact benefit Dems more than the GOP.

Any thoughts?

News Flash said...

A Tea Party group in Kansas is saying that a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives should not be elected because he does not have children.

Rational Nation USA said...

No idea Shaw, must be the time of day.

Dave Miller said...

Newsflash... following the logic I saw regarding that, no male candidate can ever speak to a woman's issue...

Would i be incorrect in my application of this lame convoluted logic?

Shaw Kenawe said...


Our loyal opposition is deafeningly quiet on the subject.

They, too, must be horribly embarrassed by the disgraceful and manipulative actions being taken by members of the GOP to stop the vote. Correction. Stop the Democratic ticket vote.

They're turning us into a banana republic.

skudrunner said...

I was unaware that early voting was only for democrats and this mess only affects democrat voters.

Good to know and thanks for the update.

Dave Miller said...

Shaw, they are quiet except to cry out for more ID of voters.

I could accept this and I even believe we should be making our voting process less vulnerable to potential fraud.

The way i would like to see it done is to look a few elections out, to say 2024 for full implementation.

With a date like that in the future, we could pretty much insure that the generation of people voting today with little or no ID [primarily seniors of minority descent] would no longer be around.

We would then have time to get the laws correct so that all of the potentially affected groups, like college students, would grow up knowing what the rules will be and can prepare for them.

To change course mid stream on people, as the GOP is trying to do, is insane.

Imagine of the Dems took the above as their approach, said they are trying to close a potential problem area and give people time to prepare.

BB-Idaho said...

The folks that are so worried about 'voter fraud' that they suppress citizens right to vote
are now upset about UN electoral
observers. Seems to reveal that the
suppression supercedes the fraud,
if they fear outside observers.
Talk about exceptionalism....

Shaw Kenawe said...

Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist who headed up John McCain's campaign in 2008:

"One of the things that you always want to be for, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, is that you want everyone who's eligible to vote to vote. ... I think that all of this stuff that has transpired over the last two years is in search of a solution to a problem, voting fraud, that doesn’t really exist when you look deeply at the question. It’s part of the mythology now in the Republican Party that there’s widespread voter fraud across the country. In fact, there’s not," - Steve Schmidt, top McCain strategist in '08.

Anonymous said...

BREAKING: Ballot tampering suspect identified - and she's a right-wing activist

34 sec ago - Late this afternoon, Clackamas County identified the suspect in the felony ballot-tampering investigation as Deanna Swenson of Oregon City, a 55-year-old registered Republican. Clackamas County has fired her. Swenson confirmed her role to Willamette ...

S.W. Anderson said...

They're not known as banana Republicans for nothing, and Flake's last name works as a fitting adjective.

". . . why did all these people wait until the last minute?"

Early voting days in Florida were cut from 14 to eight. Deliberate understaffing, lack of adequate facilities and equipment would've meant long lines even if the the full 14 days had been allowed. Having 30 ballot measures to vote on, half of them thanks to Republican legislators, means the average voter needs about a half hour to vote.

All fine with Gov. Rick Scott, who gave up making millions in the health insurance (some of those defrauding Medicare) just before the feds moved in. He quickly moved on to a career in public disservice. He's not actually a governor in the accepted sense. He's a Republican operative in in the Karl Rove/Nathan Sproul/James O'Keefe sense.