I just talked to Steve Shapiro again in Florida. He's understandably depressed and wasn't really in much of a talking mood.
Questions in bold are from me. Answers are from Steve.
Were there any problems yesterday?
None that were apparent or significant. There weren't even long lines. The pattern had always been crowded from 7-11am and 4-7pm and only half of that was true yesterday. Nobody showed up in the afternoon.
So your project was a success? They had all voted early?
Yes. When we got back tothe church that night. Everyone said it was the same pattern. I mean it was steady, but the early voting really seems to have made a big difference in reducing the number of mishaps.
Were there a lot of Provisional Ballots used that you could see?
No, actually. Not many Provisional Ballots that we could tell. But we weren't inside the polls, but we were talking to the lawyers inside the polls and they were sort of giving us updates. It didn't seem like there were many Provisional Ballots being used, or at least certainly not in numbers that were out of the ordinary.
There was only one "challenge," and it was a legit one. Somebody really did try to vote twice.
How exactly was it that all the lawyers were allowed to be inside the polls?
Each candidate, party, or ballot initiative is allowed to have one there on their behalf. In many cases, there were committies of lawyers there on behalf of the various campaigns.
We talked to some of them who noted that, for the most part, there didn't seem to be any kind of Republican strategy or anything. Conflicts between lawyers and citizens/poll workers/volunteers really seemed to depend on the personality of the lawyers.
For instance, at one of the precincts we were at, the Republican lawyer was a really nice guy, and the Democrat lawyer was really a jerk!
Here's the introductory post that goes with this one.
Here was Steve Shapiro's report from Sunday on his "Election Protection" assignment in Florida.
Here are some photos from fellow Election Protection member Gail.
We are at the caleb center in the Model City neighborhood -- a community center that was built after the 1980 riots - has become the center of a lot of activity. This is one of the early voting places. The poll is officially closed at 5pm -- but there are still 2-3 hours of people.
Yesterday there were about 600 people in line when the polls closed at 5pm.
Voting is taken extrordinarily seriosly - peole are on a mission to make sure that their vote counts.
So they give numbers and call for people to vote. so they just stop giving out numbers at 5. It works like the priority ticket system for music concerts. Once people get their number, that can move about. So people were sitting in no particular order, and there were a lot of kids and families around.
We're working today with the Miami Dade Election Reform coalition -- another non-partisan coalition to learn about the electronic voting machines. They got a small grant to organize people to go out and witness the closing up procedures.
It's inspiring. They've given up their whole day to do this. The Election Protection people were taking complaints from people. The only complaint is that it takes too long. It's just that there are so many people.
Florida law says that they have to ask you for ID, but you don't have to supply it unless you're a first time voter who has never voted before. You can sign an affadivit. Every state has a different law as far as that goes.
We haven't had any incidents in the last three days AT ALL -- so everybody that showed up to vote has been allowed to - their names has been on the list.
On Tuesday they will be run by different people. The people running the early voting
Early voting can take place at any one of the 14 regional centers in Dade county, but on Tuesday you have to go to your correct precinct, which are smaller. There's only two places where the precinct your registered with doesn't matter -- and those are official county offices.
They lost a lawsuit by the AFLCIO among others that would have made it OK to use a provisional ballot if you go to the wrong precinct. But they lost, so you do need to go to the correct precinct.
These "early voting" folks are working from a comprehensive list of all eligible. The list Tuesday will be the same list with "eligible, voted absentee, voted early, etc." noted so there won't be any duplicate voting.
The Broward county to the north have had more problems - not enough sites, not enough machines - more problems at the polls. Broward county is the same county that lost 58,000 absentee ballots -- people never received them. Said it was the post offices problem. They supposedly re-mailed them out -- friday -- so anyone out of state won't get theirs in time. Just for tonight, (Sunday) we will be there to montior with the election reform coalition.
A friend of mine, Steve Shapiro, called in this report to me last Saturday (10/30/04). (Report from Sunday 10/31/04 to follow.)
He's been in Florida for the past few days working in one of the "Election Protection" teams that have been organized by Bay Area People for Election Protection, a group of citizens that have come together to help people vote in various "trouble spots" across the nation. In the 2000 election, Dade county, Florida, was one of the biggest "trouble spots." (To say the least.)
This time around, citizens of Dade county, which is largely african american and hatian, are taking advantage of the opportunity to vote early.
People are waiting in line for three to sometimes 6 hours in the hot sun just to vote. For the most part, they are happy to do it. (Yeah right!) No seriously; They are quite relieved that their vote will be counted this time around.
The Election Protection team has been working out of the local NAACP office in the local church. (The New Birth Vision To Victory Baptist Church, in North Miami.)
On Saturday, at the precinct where Steve was working, voting was open from 1-5 pm. The way things worked at that precinct, at 5pm, the Elections Clerk goes and gets in line. Everyone in front of Clerk gets to vote. It provides an easy means of protecting those who got there in time to those trying to sneak in after the deadline. (Note: Other precincts are using a priority ticket system -- just like a rock concert ticket line. Numbered tickets are handed out to the line and the numbers are called out later. This allows people to sit down and hang out. Or go get some food and come back, or whatever. Remember, it can take hours for your turn to come up.)
Steve described what he called a "festival atmosphere." The law in Florida is that you can't bother voters within a 50 ft radius of the precinct (note: in California, it's 100 ft). So immediately outside of that 50 ft radius, people are gathering, people are singing songs, music is blaring, people are dancing, performing circus tricks (seriously), giving speeches, playing games with their kids -- you name it. It's a feel good kinda atmosphere. These people aren't taking their votes for granted. They appreciate being counted this year, and they appreciate all of the people that came out of the woodwork to monitor the process to ensure that their votes would be counted this year.
Steve and his team (5 from San Francisco and 1 person from Seattle) have been driving buses of lawyers and voters around, delivering water, and doing whatever else is needed using a fleet of 20 vans that have been rented from the airport.