Early voting is all the rage this election season. More than 80,000 voters flocked to the booths this past weekend to pick the president. But this is Florida, where nothing ever goes as planned.
Complaints have already rolled in about long lines and wonky machines. To get a feel for what life as an early voter is like, New Times trolled the Hollywood Branch Library. The line stretched, but spirits were mostly high.
Nathan, 32 years old, chef on a yacht
Are you voting early today?
I was going to, but I'm not waiting in this line.
Oh. Were you anticipating any type of wait?
I didn't expect this. How long are people waiting?
I've heard anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Did you vote early last year?
Yeah. I didn't have to wait.
Do you really think that if you leave now, you'll actually come back and vote another time? Like the lines will probably only get worse, right?
I'll have to wait eventually, I guess. But not today. I'll try to go earlier or go to the place near my house, where I assume the line won't be as long.
Are you on your lunch break or something?
No. I worked a little bit this morning, but that doesn't really count.
Lacrisha (right, in baseball cap), 23 years old, works at Publix full time and goes to school
How long did you have to wait in line to vote?
An hour and a half.
Ugh. Was it terrible?
No, it wasn't bad at all. It was actually OK because I thought I was going to have to wait a lot longer than that.
Yeah. Last year, I waited like five hours to vote. The line here was way longer last year. It like snaked around the entire building.
So why did you decide to vote early?
Because I need to get my president back in office.
I heard the ballot is crazy long. Was that annoying?
I just vote Democrat all the way down. As long as you got a D next to your name, you got my vote.
Peter, 42 years old, works in the home health-care business
Why are you voting early?
Because I don't want to wait for four hours next Tuesday to vote.
Gotcha. Well how long have you been waiting in line today?
Ten minutes, I estimate.
How long you think it'll be before you actually vote?
I'd say 45 minutes.
What do you think of the scene?
It seems like Brenda Snipes has done an OK job, but I question whether all these people should be shoving these voting materials in my hand. I guess I'm surprised there's not more accountability.
I heard the ballot is crazy long. You think that's a way of suppressing voters?
I say the more issues on the ballot, the better. People saying that are not forcing themselves to think about the issues. I will say that because there's an issue on the ballot doesn't mean it came to the ballot in the correct manner. I'm all about issues of the people, and that's what we need to focus on. People really need to educate themselves, and we need to get back to the issues of the people.
Are you on your lunch break?
No. I'm on my last day of vacation. We just got back from Fantasy Fest in Key West. There's a story New Times should do.
Thanks for the tip.
Adriana, 47 years old, works in videogame production
How long did you have to wait to vote today?
Did you expect that?
No, I was a bit surprised. But the weather is gorgeous, and I was going to do it one of these days, so today seemed perfect.
So beyond Obama and Romney, were you familiar with the many other names on the ballot?
It's funny. I recognize the basics: president, vice president, senators, the one's I've seen TV ads for. I knew the sheriff candidates, Scott Israel and Al Lamberti, because they've been running some ads too. But there's just so many when it gets to school positions and judges and way down there.
Do you have a strategy for the unknowns?
I vote Democrat, but sometimes I just look at the name. If the name sounds Hispanic, I'll go with it. Sometimes it's just eeny meeny, miny, moe, or I'll just pick the one with the prettiest name.
I heard the ballot is crazy long. What did you think of it?
I'm bilingual, and I have a bachelor's degree. Look at this thing [unfolds giant ballot]. They give you like cheat sheets, which is funny. So it did make sense.
Is this your first time voting?
No, second time in this country. I'm from Colombia originally. Sometimes I think I might lean right, but then when I listen to the little points, especially being a woman, I realize that life has progressed and time has moved on. And I come from Colombia, which is not supposed to be a developed nation, yet I pay $80 for health care.
Anything crazy or odd happen while you waited in line?
There was one guy trying to sell health insurance and another guy trying to sell life insurance!
John, 49 years old, trucker
Are you voting early?
Am I voting early?
Can I interview you?
Walk with me [heading toward the back of the line]
So are you planning on voting today?
Yup, and I'm a registered Republican for Obama [jokingly punches reporter in stomach]
Oh yeah, I'm not kidding about that. Want to see my registration card?
Nah. I believe you. So why are you voting early?
Because I drive a truck and I'll be on the road. I'll have to listen to the whole thing on satellite radio.
I heard the ballot is crazy long. Think that's a way of suppressing voters?
I'm sure it's to aggravate and piss off people. I'm sure everything on it is as vaguely worded as possible too to confuse them.
Florida has a bit of a reputation when it comes to messing up elections. Think we'll be good this year?
Oh, I remember 2000 very well. But I don't know, I think things might actually work out this year.
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