When I woke up at 7 a.m. on Saturday and checked the wait times for early voting at my local polling place, the Lemon City library, the Miami-Dade website said I'd spend 45 minutes in line. I remembered the horror stories about voting in 2008, and I knew the polls would be crowded that day, because it was the last day of early voting.
Still, 45 minutes sounded pretty good. I figured I'd end up waiting for two hours, max.
But when I arrived at the library, that wait time had ballooned to three hours. By the time I left, I'd been standing in line for five hours -- legs aching, skin painfully sunburned, hungry, ornery, and pissed. And I had it easy. Some voters reported waiting as long as eight hours to vote this weekend; the last early voter to pass through Miami-Dade polls reportedly did so at 1 a.m. Sunday morning.
The workers at the library did what they could to ease our pain. Volunteers passed out water and snacks, and at the very front of the line, folding chairs were provided. But these tiny comforts weren't enough to offset the frustratingly slow shuffle around the adjacent park.
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On Sunday, as I iced my sunburned neck and considered splurging on a massage to work out the ache in my lower back from all that standing, I thought about the woman standing in line behind me the day before, who agonized over whether to leave the line so she could make it to work on time. And the girl in front of me in line, who waited as long as I did to vote, only to learn when she finally reached the front of the line that her registration -- which she had completed before the 2012 voting deadline -- hadn't been processed. She left, defeated, without filling out a ballot.
Turns out, I was lucky to have cast my vote at all. After telling voters they'd be able to cast ballots on Sunday, the Miami-Dade elections department headquarters -- the only open polling place in the county -- began turning voters away at the doors. Voters' cars were reportedly towed from the site before officials reopened the doors.
Whether you voted this weekend or not, you've heard somebody's horror story about trying, successfully or no, to participate in this year's election. We're all angry about the absurdly difficult process we've endured in Miami-Dade. And we all deserve to be heard. So if you have a tale of early voting awfulness, please share it in the comments below. At best, your stories could inspire real change. At worst, at least you have a chance to vent your frustrations.