"Where did you put my grandmother?"
That's a question I never expected to have to ask at an early voting site. But alas, when I took my grandmother with me to vote early on Nov. 1, (thanks to Governor Scott's law the only Sunday, of "early voting,") that's exactly the question I asked.
Early voting chaos was already in full swing, at least at the South Dade regional library. I was given a "place holder card" to go stand in line while my grandmother, who I was meant to assist as she's handicapped and only speaks Spanish, waited in a designated seating area. By the time I got inside, about an hour later, the protocol had changed and my grandmother was floating about the library, nervously trying to call me while an English-speaking polling employee ordered her around.
That was only the beginning. My actual ballot, as well as my grandmother's, had to be reprinted three times due to a printer malfunction that was causing the wrong early voting site to appear on the ballot. The last time they re-printed my ballot was after I'd been assured I had the correct one in my hand and had filled it out. There I stood, dumbfounded, as someone walked away with a fully completed ballot. What if I hadn't walked after her to ask her to please void it?
I was one of the lucky ones. Despite the confusion, I ended up voting, early, in only two hours. My sister, who had to take a newborn she's nursing with her, waited over three hours on a Monday afternoon. Two friends braved the six to eight hour lines on the "last Saturday." And then, yesterday, all out confusion in Doral. So ... is early voting over, or not? It appears it's not, but they've given it a new name. And out of curiosity... should I have bothered?
I, for one, plan to swing by my regular voting location tomorrow and get a look at the line. I'm sure voting in Florida will be as confusing in 2016 as it was in 2000, and has already been this year. It can't hurt to get a little more informed before I decide how to cast my vote the next time around.
For real-time election results from Florida, including exit polls, live numbers, and analysis, see here.