It was close to noon yesterday when I began my trek to Miami Beach City Hall, eager to cast my vote in this loong, drawn out Presidential election. The walk was short, the weather cool, but exercising the right to elect my candidate of choice wasn't quite as easy.
As a former DC resident, I had just recently registered to vote in Florida. Knowing the Sunshine State's spotty history, I called the Board of Elections to make sure that I would be good to go when November 4 rolled around. The frazzled dude on the other end of the phone assured me that even though they had unnecessarily tacked a "North" onto the name of my street, I was eligible to vote. So when I received a letter two weeks later saying my social security number was invalid, I began to sweat. Again, I rang the Dade county elections headquarters to see what the problemo was. Again, I was assured that my registration information was correct. Whew.
So yesterday when I stood in front of polling volunteer Jorge as he held two cell phones to his head, trying to reach someone at that same office about the fact that my name was missing from the computer - all I could think was, "Florida fuckery." And as the loud-mouthed dude who had stood behind me in line yelled, "You're still here?," I realized - I'm still here.
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Jorge finally got through to the headquarters and when he hung up, he dropped the bomb on me - my social security number was invalid and I would have to fill out a provisional ballot. And the honesty of my "I Voted" sticker faded. Nevertheless, I filled out the ballot, stuffed it in the box (the box?) and stormed outside where I was approached by a fabled pollwatcher. These people are law students, attorneys, and other volunteers allowed to sit inside of voting precincts and watch election activity. And according to this guy holding a Starbucks turkey sandwich, someone would be calling me to see if I'm who I say I am (I am) and my vote would count. Supposedly.
Even though, according to the Wall Street Journal, in 2004 less than half of provisional votes were counted. I'll be following up on my case, as you should too if you're a provisional Percy, but damn.
UPDATE: I received a call from the Miami-Dade Elections office on November 2, and was shocked and relieved that they were working on a Sunday. I was informed that if I could confirm my social security number either in person or via fax by 6 p.m. on November 6, my vote would be counted. So I called and faxed and called again, and voila - my vote has been counted. Perseverance ya'll.
-- Raina McLeod