I am a proud Democrat and an experienced event coordinator.
Yesterday as the polls opened I was on site (Aventura Government Center) as early as I could, eager to make sure that I was part of history and that my voice was heard.
Many of us did not expect to be such a turn out as it has been since early voting that started yesterday morning at 7AM.
But that is when my observations comes in. There seems to be many factors that no one has either taking in consideration or ignored completely.
First, It took me 4 1/2 hours to make my vote (which I did not mind at all) but what really bugged me was the treatment towards others that I think I should bring to your attention.
As you know living in Florida is also living next to the biggest communities of retirees in the USA.
There were many elderly people in that same line as me of 4 1/2 hours of waiting, standing in the heat, with the high winds that I felt concerned about.
The solution that the center came up with was a primitive, ineffective system where the person behind the elderly will keep a blue ticket to hold the spot of the retiree while he/she will take a seat waiting for the younger person to get to the front and then the retiree will be call with that ticket number. The problem with that is that many of the volunteers did not made it a priority to seek for the elderly, or the pregnant, or the disable and so on, to help them. Must of us (the younger ones) had to approach a volunteer and asked them to help those in need.
Second, there was no need to keep an elderly person standing or waiting on line or in a seat for them to cast their vote, for hours. There are many ways to expedite this service, but take the banks system for example, you have one line for regular customers and then you have a Business line for business accounts holders only. When there is no one standing in that line, the teller will take the next person on the regular line until another business account holder approaches his/her window. That is what we missed, there should have been a line ONLY for Disables, military personnel, pregnant women, people over 65, and much more, and then when there is no one from that category on that line, one can take the next person on the regular line. Believe it or not, this will expedite the process maybe to half of the time spent. Do you have an idea how many people left the single line that we were in? early and during waiting for voting, lots left. Many said that they will come the next day or during the week, but who guarantees that? also, anything could happen in that week like new polls, new jobs report, new gas prices, or any new development that could change people’s mind in the decision on whom to vote for. I think that the whole point of this early voting is to grasp the voters whose mind is balanced but leaning towards one candidate, right?
Third, there was chaos once you come in to get your five ballots. The volunteers or workers were giving numbers twice in a same minute frame. I had number 43, but one lady, three people after me, got also the number 43. There were others that even obtain wrong ballots, with wrong names, information, and so on. The reason why I got to see all these events unfold was because I decided to change my registration from Broward county to Dade. Because for the last four years I have been living in Aventura, but I used to vote and live in Hollywood, so while waiting for the transfer I got to see first hand in those 10 short minutes, inside the voting booths, these circumstances come to pass.
Another critical point to make is that there were NO SOLICITING signs all over this place, so not only you had to stand for hours in the line, under the hot sun, with high wins (no matter your condition or age) but also there was nothing to drink or to eat. If there are going to be signs of not soliciting, there should a have some type of assistance for those who were tired, hungry, and thirsty. This was another reason why many left the line before voting.
These are just the things I got to see, I’m sure there were many more that I did not catch.
Look, I know that no one expected such of turn out, but that is when planning kicks in. Now, I know that you have no control over these, but I’m sure that you can point out these issues to the right people so this kind of things don’t keep happening and we can make a smoother transition in our voting system.
I hope this letter can help any one in the effort of approaches to voters and strategies or even a point to keep in mind, I’m sure it will be.