Election Day is just around the corner, but the Florida Keys have already gotten off to a fast start. One week ahead of the big day, 26% of the registered voters have already cast their ballots. Two-thirds of that group voted by absentee ballots, but the other third was willing to stand in long lines at limited polling places to be sure they got a chance to cast their ballot in person. Currently, Obama leads Romney by one point in the state in the polls.
In the scheme of things, the Keys are an extremely small sample. But judging from those long lines, there was no mistaking a palpable feeling among the would-be voters: they wanted to be sure they got their vote in. Many of the folks I talked to were concerned that other activities and appointments would hinder their ability to cast their vote on November 6, but more than a few that simply didn't want to wait.
Demographically, the Keys voting population is a microcosm of the statewide representation. The snowbirds, many of whom are registered to vote in Florida, are starting to return. In addition to retirees, boat captains, and bartenders, there is also a large Cuban segment making their way to the polls.
In a change from last year’s election, these polling places required a Florida driver’s license that was electronically scanned. I’m sure there were other methods available to prove one’s residence and registration, but the addition of the electronic scanning may be a sign of things to come. It would seem reasonable that some form of picture ID would lay to rest questions of who is voting and how many times.
I’ll leave the judging of voter concerns and expectations to the talking head experts, and the prediction of the presidential election to the lady with the crystal ball. But I would venture a guess that there are a whole lot more folks out there that are concerned about this election (and willing to do what it takes to get their vote counted) than most pundits are predicting.
Stories about Superstorm Sandy affecting Election Day turnout in the Northeast made up some of the chatter heard in the voting line. Seems the Keys folks were somewhat skeptical of such talk, seeing how the bars here don’t even close when a Cat 1 hurricane is approaching; closing the polls or skipping the process would be out of the question. If you haven't voted already, make the time on Tuesday.
But just once, please.