Early Voting Problems Plague Florida - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

It seems that Florida, the scene of election scandals in 2000 and 2004, still can’t seem to get it right even with early voting procedures. In South Florida yesterday, expansive lines and hour long wait-times aggravated potential voters as if it were Nov. 4, 2004 and not October 20, 2008.

At the West Delray Beach Library in Palm Beach County, elderly people complained about standing up for an hour or more in the sun and younger ones complained that voting protocol exposed their ballots, making the process less private, according to the Huffington Post.

“Lines are a sign of a healthy democracy, and certainly our democracy is healthy today,” said Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning to the Associated Press.

Early voting for national elections was instituted in Florida in 2004. One reason was to alleviate long lines on Election Day; especially considering the increase of registered voters since 2000.

Since the beginning of this year, voter rolls in Miami-Dade County have added nearly 160,000 names, for a total of more than 1.2 million voters, according to the Miami Herald. Democrats in both Miami-Dade (holding a 554,001-382,286 advantage) and Broward (two to one) are showing a lead over Republicans.

In 1998, more than 90% of ballots were cast on Election Day across the nation. Now, experts estimate that nearly one in three voters will have already voted — either in person on a voting machine at a central polling location or by mail using a paper absentee ballot — by the time polls open on Nov. 4, according to a Pew Center Report. So far during for this 2008 election, Florida Republicans have requested 295,000 absentee ballots statewide compared with 199,000 requested by Florida Democrats, reports the Associated Press.

Polls in North Carolina and Georgia also opened last week to long waits. Black voters have made up a disproportionately high percentage of early voters, accounting for 37% of Georgia’s early voters, says Newsday.com

Separately, Tennessee has seen a record numbers of voters at local election offices, shattering previous early voting numbers.

By the close of voting Saturday, 371,630 Tennesseans cast ballots in the Nov. 4 presidential election, 113,293 more than voted during the first four days in the 2004 election, according to the Chattanooga Times/Free Press.

Marcia A. Wade is a reporter at BlackEnterprise.com

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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