|It’s Flori-duh, in a Landslide|
|Written by Frank Rollason -- BT Contributor|
No question about it -- our inability to run an election makes us the most backward state in the union
What a debacle. What an embarrassment. What a demonstrative showing of how inept our beautiful state is when it comes to dealing with elections.
Once again our state has lived up to its well-earned moniker of Flori-duh! From the governor on down to local officials throughout the state, we showed the nation what a bunch of jerkwater, incompetent, uncaring officials we have -- officials who theoretically occupy our elected and appointed professional positions, at a significant cost to us taxpayers, to simply take care of business and have failed miserably one more time.
I mean, think about it. We had four years since 2008 to prepare for this last presidential election and the results of that supposed preparation have made Flori-duh the laughingstock of the rest of the nation.
As I sit here at my computer writing this column, it is Wednesday evening, 24 hours since the polls closed, and Flori-duh still does not have its results forwarded to the rest of the nation. (Florida was finally called for President Obama on Saturday, November 10, four days after the election.) It is unbelievable to me that, once again, we could not stand up to the challenge.
Our esteemed governor, Rick Scott, cut the days for early voting from 14 to 8 and, even though the lines were blocks long from day one, the governor stood fast in has assessment that eight days was surely more than enough to handle the load. His decision would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
Worse, thanks to our wise state legislators, early-voting sites are restricted to city halls and public libraries. In Dade County, with more than 1.3 million registered voters, we had a measly 20 locations where people could vote early.
Then we have the debacle dealing with absentee ballots; another fiasco earning our state the Flori-duh title. Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that absentee ballot fraud is alive and well in Flori-duh? And where is Katherine Fernandez Rundle, our newly re-elected State Attorney? Not a peep. Do you think she might empanel a grand jury to look into absentee ballot fraud? Don’t hold your breath.
Then we have the early-voting miscue on the Sunday before Election Day, where the county opened the supervisor of elections’ office to allow voters to pick up and drop off, of all things, absentee ballots -- only to have Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez countermand that operation and order the doors closed, thereby incurring the wrath of the masses demanding their constitutional rights to an absentee ballot or they would “Storm the Bastille!”
About an hour later the mayor came to his senses and reopened the doors, thus defusing another black eye for Flori-duh, or at least recasting the whole thing as a minor glitch. Regardless of how this particular incident materialized, the buck stops with the mayor on this one. On this issue, the mayor -- and no one else -- owes the public an apology.
Then we have the miscues on Election Day itself. Multiple machines failed to operate properly, which is not unexpected for any device that combines mechanics with computers. Keep in mind, however, that Miami-Dade County spent millions of our tax dollars to replace all voting machines in an effort to rectify the hanging-chad syndrome that marked the 2000 election. The point was to give voters confidence that our votes would not only count but be recorded for the candidates we had selected.
Why not bring back the old gray monsters that mechanically registered our vote, kept a paper record of all votes cast, and best of all, gave the voter a sense of mission accomplished when the red handle controlling the curtain was pulled back and you could see all the keys pop back up as each vote selected was registered? Call me a dinosaur, but that was voting.
Aside from the mechanical failings, the biggest black eye was the length of lines and the inability of our elections department to adequately plan for this. I mean, we were all told weeks ago to expect round-the-block waits because the ballot was so long. So if I were the elections supervisor, I would have gone to my boss and said, “Boss, we are facing another embarrassing moment for Miami-Dade County if we are incapable of handling the anticipated voter turnout with an inadequate number of machines and personnel to tackle the work load.”
I remember as a kid that my dad would instill in me the responsibility to vote. He would tell me that all over the world people stand in the bitter cold all through the night to be able to stuff a paper ballot into a box. And today, at the ripe old age of 67, I see my father’s admonitions coming home to roost as many, many voters here stood in lines into the wee hours of the morning to register their vote -- long after the presidential race had been called, making their vote on that particular race irrelevant.
Can you imagine that you have endured all the mudslinging, robocalls, presidential debates, shortened early-voting periods, and been jerked around on the process of obtaining and submitting an absentee ballot only to find out in the end that you are in line to vote for the President of the United States in the year 2012 and your vote does not make a rat’s ass bit of difference as to who will occupy the White House for the next four years?
Something is wrong, folks, if we, in the most technologically advanced country in the world, with all our smartphones, iPads, and the like, have to stand in a line for hours to cast a vote. We have put a man on the moon and a mechanical rover on Mars, and we’re still standing in line to cast our vote for president. And even that process is being screwed up by those we hire to make it happen. How pathetic.
The really sad part is that, now that the election is over, we will all go back to our mundane lives and this, too, shall pass. Our elected officials will pledge that “steps will be taken to assure that this will never happen again” and perhaps some underlings will be subjected to disciplinary action (probably not deserved) and we may even have to spend some more of our tax dollars to “resolve the deficiencies that this election brought to light.”
The bottom line, however, is that, regardless of what actions take place post-election, come 2016, we will still be Flori-duh to the rest of the nation. And, my friends, as Lily Tomlin’s child character used to say, that’s the truth!
Volume 12, Issue 8. October 2014
The Smithsonian honors a local documentary photographer
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