With Election Day now just two days away — if you can believe it — early voting is fully underway in many states and already wrapping up in others. In Maryland’s Prince George County, where 10 percent of registered voters have voted early, lines were so long (often three or four hours long) that the state had to bring in extra voting machines. In Ohio, The Nation’s Ari Berman estimated the queue outside one early voting location at around 1,000 people, claiming that the state had already surpassed its 2008 early voting totals. Meanwhile, yesterday was the last day for early voting in Chicago (where lines at least moved mercifully fast) and in Florida (where they didn’t, thanks to a 5-page ballot.)
So many Floridians wanted to vote by last night’s 7 p.m. deadline that that some waits took as long as eight or nine hours. The slowness was blamed on both the lengthy ballot — which included no fewer than 11 amendments to the state’s constitution — and the fact that at least seven Florida counties have more than 50,000 registered voters per location. (Several voting facilities in Miami-Dade reported 5-hour-plus and 6-hour-plus lines yesterday.) The last voters in line ultimately only got to cast their ballots at 1 a.m., six hours after the deadline.
At one point during the day, the city’s election headquarters had to be closed down temporarily due to an overwhelming number of voters wishing to submit early absentee ballots. “We want to vote! We want to vote!” people were heard screaming outside.
“Let the people vote!” former Florida governor — and former Republican — Charlie Crist tweeted, presumably to current governor Rick Scott, who ignored pleas from Democrats and even members of his own party to extend the early voting window. Hence, the lawsuit filed early this morning in Miami federal court claiming that “extraordinarily long lines deterred or prevented voters from waiting to vote.”