October 21, 2004

Update on that Florida voter.

Yesterday, we posted about the problems that a Florida student living in New York was having getting her absentee ballot. We have an update:

I called the Elections Dept. for the zillionth time yesterday (they're on my speed dial, no lie) to find out what was going on. After being transferred twice, I finally spoke to a supervisor who looked at my file and told me (again) that there was no record of my having requested a ballot, or that I had sent in my updated signature and re-request two and a half weeks ago. She said that the very last ballots are being sent out this friday, but she would see what she could do and call me back. She did not call me back. I called this morning and spoke to the same woman, and she had no recollection whatsoever of our conversation yesterday. She looked up my file again, and all of a sudden there is a record of my original ballot request, as well as a note about my request being returned to me (the un-matched signature). Wow, miracles do occur. She says she will call me back, PROMISE. An hour later, she called! And she will send me my ballot after all, though I will have to FedEx it back to get it in on time. So, this story does have a happy ending, of sorts.

I do not think that this was a case of actively discouraging voters; rather an example of the sadly, horrifically disorganized and understaffed Florida Elections Department. It is apalling that I was nearly kept from voting because of this reason. After what happened last time, you would have thought that this problem would have been taken care of. They have had four years to get their shit together, and still it is a mess. Every person I talked to told me about the thousands of calls coming in every day, and the tens of thousands of forms to sift through and process. As if I was supposed to be understanding, stranded in New York with no way to vote for President. I am NOT understanding, it is NOT my problem and it is NOT okay to use an excuse like that. There must be hundreds and hundreds of people (or more) who will not vote this year through no fault of their own. Man.

If it means that someone who should be able to vote can't vote, we're not sure how much difference there is between deliberately discouraging voters, or discouraging voters because of incompetence or understaffing. Given how badly Florida handled the 2000 election, one wouldn't think that the state (and the county election departments) would be doing so poorly this time around, too.

We're certain that the facts that Republicans control the state legislature and Dubya's brother is governor of Florida have nothing to do with the lack of improvement.

Oh, we'll let you know whether the absentee ballot actually arrives.

Posted by Magpie at October 21, 2004 05:13 PM | Elections | Technorati links |

Just for the sake of Saying so Natasha, I'm in Florida too... Pinellas County though and I've never experienced voting problems... Maybe because of where I am, maybe because I'm lucky. It's old people who tend to run my preceint and I don't recall them screwing up before -- well, not counting the time I tried to vote in the primaries (2000) and couldn't because I was an Independant voter...

If anything fishy happens with me, I'kk update you on it or at worst post it in my blog...

Posted by: John F. at October 21, 2004 07:05 PM

Erm, Magpie wrote this one, but thanks for the promise to keep us updated nonetheless.

My absentee ballot has already arrived, and the SO and I have sent them on their merry way to the post office. It's funny that right after Dean dropped out, I thought that when the day came, it might be hard to vote for Kerry. It was SOOOOO easy.

Posted by: natasha at October 21, 2004 10:17 PM

i filled out my ballot tonight (we oregonians all vote by mail), and it felt so good to vote against that bastard in the white house. of course, the election department forgot to send me a secrecy envelope for my ballot, so i have at least one hoop to jump through before i can actually cast my vote.

Posted by: Magpie at October 21, 2004 10:42 PM

Wow!! I thought I was the only one! I'm a recent FSU graduate living in New York as well and I requested my absentee ballot about a month and a half ago. Has it come? NO! I also have the Broward county elections office on speed dial and have the cell phone bills to prove that I've called them about every 3 days (being kept on hold for 20+ minutes has drastically lowered my daytime minutes this month). But ask me again if I have received my absentee ballot in the mail yet? NO! It's less then a week to go and I am scared Florida has cast my vote out of this election.

I can tell you this though- I won't take this lying down.

Posted by: ljc at October 26, 2004 10:25 AM