South Florida’s determined early voters face a minefield’s worth of obstacles this week as they try to cast their ballots. In a special edition of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show last night, Maddow displayed a disturbing series of photos from her Florida fans showing ridiculously long lines at polling places across the state. According to Maddow, viewers reported waiting two hours and more to cast early ballots, and “have been sending us these pictures of people losing entire work days in an effort to cast a ballot.”
Maddow squarely places the blame on Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott:
“After they had the long lines in 2008, Florida’s new Republican Governor Rick Scott last year decided to cut the days for early voting almost in half, obviously making a bad situation worse.” Despite pleas from various organizations, including the Florida Democratic Party and the non-partisan League of Women’s voters, Scott refused to extend early voting hours.”
She expresses outrage and heartfelt sympathy but urges, “If you are one of those people being forced to stand in those long lines tonight, tomorrow or on election day, honestly, your country needs you to do it.”
Unfortunately for Florida voters, long lines aren’t the only obstacles they face. Brenton Mock reports for The Nation that some people in Florida’s Hillsborough County (particularly ones who happen to be African American) showed up only to discover that they are among the “77 people–40 of them in Tampa–[who] won’t be able to file a regular ballot because the True the Vote-affiliated group, Tampa Vote Fair, has challenged their voting status.”
Meanwhile, the Miami-Dade County Election Headquarters in Doral, Florida slammed its doors shut on nearly 200 early voters this Sunday, according to The Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei. The official reason given was that “the office did not have enough resources — only one ballot printer, five voting booths and two staffers — to handle the throng of voters,” but Mazzei strongly suspects it had more to do with Miami-Dade’s Republican mayor, Mayor Carlos Gimenez, not authorizing the extra hours. “This is America, not a third-world country,” fumed Myrna Peralta, who had waited over two hours with her 4-year-old grandson in tow (someone please nominate this woman for sainthood ASAP!)
Floridians hoping to avoid the long lines by filing absentee ballots are also finding themselves SOL (sh*t out of luck), because — as Osceola County voters are discovering — they still have to queue up to get their absentee ballot forms. As reported in last week by David Jackson from USA Today, the Obama campaign has been urging swing state supporters to vote early to ensure that their votes are counted.
If you missed Maddow’s show, you can watch the video below: