Voting barriers erected by the GOP more than tested the patience of thousands of people in Ohio and Florida on the last weekend of early voting, leaving voters waiting for hours outdoors in long lines and then stranded in hallways before casting a vote.
In both states, Republicans had issued rules that created the long lines. Local news reports suggested that Ohioans fared better than Floridians, some of whom had to wait eight or more hours and didn’t vote until midnight. (Everyone in line when polls close is allowed to vote.) In other swing states, notably North Carolina, early voters have reported that they were asked for forms of ID not required under state law or harassed by partisan poll watchers, amounting to the electoral equivalent of racial profiling.
Still, it appears that more Democrats than Republicans were voting early in 2012’s top two swing states, The Early Voting Information Center reports. Nationwide, the same pattern holds although the GOP is downplaying its significance.
In the hardest-hit areas from Hurricane Sandy, preparations for voting on Tuesday were evolving, with New Jersey saying it would allow voting by e-mail and fax, although that would be impossible in areas with no power. The National Guard would create mobile voting centers, the state said. Security experts have said online voting isn’t secure. Election experts say the storm will cut into turnout in New Jersey and New York.
Florida: Shady Doings In Sunshine State
No one should be surprised by this weekend’s long lines in Florida, where the Miami Herald reported waits of eight hours or more in south Florida—and the refusal of Miami political leaders to not extend voting options. The fine print of state law, which the GOP- controlled Legislature did not change to make high turnout elections run smoother, limits early voting sites to a handful of public buildings. That short list of sites translated into long lines, which was made worse by Florida’s Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott’s refusal to extend early voting hours Sunday. Florida’s Democrat Party filed a lawsuit Sunday, however no court order was issued yesterday. When early voting was extended at a Miami area vote center Sunday, it was in a Republican stronghold.
The worst lines were in the Miami area, where, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow also reported, local officials temporarily shut down voting because they could not handle the surge. The city’s Republican Mayor Carlos Gimenez initially refused to allow one early voting site to let nearly 200 people left standing outside in to vote. That prompted those in line to start chanting, “Let Us Vote,” the Miami Herald reported. After an hour, the mayor relented and opened the center. In contrast, in some northern Florida counties, local election officials gave out absentee ballots for people to fill out and then turn in over the counter, which eased the waiting.
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