Once Again, Florida’s The National PunchlineNovember 13th, 2012 12:00 am Carl Hiaasen
The bad news is that Florida screwed up another big election.
The good news is that it doesn’t matter this time.
By now, we Floridians have stoically accepted our laughingstock role in the electoral college. To comedy writers, we’re the gift that keeps on giving. What would Jon Stewart and David Letterman do without us?
We are the Joke State.
And, by a stroke of good fortune, it’s much easier to smile today than it was 12 years ago.
Gov. Rick Scott should send a bushel of oranges to every voter in Ohio as thanks for getting Florida off the hook, and sparing the nation from another Bush v. Gore debacle.
The 2012 presidential race was basically over on Election Tuesday when precincts in Cleveland and other key areas began reporting. President Obama’s victory was announced shortly after 11 p.m., while many Miami voters were still waiting in long lines.
To their honor, lots of them stayed and voted anyway.
On Wednesday, Floridians awoke to learn that thousands of ballots remained uncounted in Miami-Dade and several other counties. As the sorting process dragged into Thursday, we all began hearing from friends and relatives living in normal places where elections are conducted without scandal or farce.
Whether it was a text, email or phone call, the gist of the inquiry was the same:
What is wrong with your state?
CBS asked me the same question, and all I could say was, “It’s a freak show.”
Yes, Florida’s ballot was ridiculously long, stacked with dense Constitutional amendments.
Yes, exceptionally long poll lines were made worse by the Legislature’s decision to cut the early-voting period from 14 days to eight days. It was one of several Republican strategies to stifle turnout in the cities, and it backfired.
And yes, Gov. Scott could have made the election go smoother if he hadn’t refused to extend polling hours for early voting. However, there was scant chance of the governor lifting a finger to help urban Hispanics or African-Americans cast ballots, because they often vote Democrat.