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Orlando Sentinel: 200,000+ Floridians discouraged from voting by long lines, hassles

Interesting report from the Orlando Sentinel, which puts a number (a rough estimate to be sure) on the number of Floridians who didn't vote because of long lines and Election Day hassles: 200,000 --and perhaps higher.

Says the Sentinel:

Analyzing data compiled by the Orlando Sentinel, Ohio State University professor Theodore Allen estimated last week that at least 201,000 voters likely gave up in frustration on Nov. 6, based on research Allen has been doing on voter behavior.

His preliminary conclusion was based on the Sentinel's analysis of voter patterns and precinct-closing times in Florida's 25 largest counties, home to 86 percent of the state's 11.9 million registered voters.

"My gut is telling me that the real number [of voters] deterred is likely higher," Allen said. "You make people wait longer, they are less likely to vote."

Around the state, nearly 2 million registered voters live in precincts that stayed open at least 90 minutes past the scheduled 7 p.m. closing time, according to Sentinel analysis of voting data obtained from county elections supervisors. Of those, 561,000 voters live in precincts that stayed open three extra hours or longer.

While an estimate, the number isn't surprising. And, folks should note, these weren't all Obama voters who were turned away. The week after the election, here's my column on the anecdotal evidence of voter suppression:

Edgar Oliva waited to vote at Shenandoah Elementary School and fretted.

The line was too long. The clock was ticking. He had to get to work across town.

Twice before, during in-person early voting, he tried to vote but he had to leave because lines were even longer. Tuesday was his third try at voting in between one of his two jobs, cleaning carpets in Doral and working at an airport hotel.

About 4 p.m. on Election Day, he gave up.

“I had the intention of voting but there were always a lot of people,” Oliva, a native of Guatemala, told a Miami Herald reporter as he left the scene.

Oliva had so much company on Tuesday.

Voter after voter who spoke to Herald reporters on Election Day said the longer early voting lines dissuaded them from casting early ballots in person. And then the unexpected long lines on Election Day just compounded the sense of frustration in some places. Many dropped out of line.

The experience played out across the state. Data show the 71.13 percent turnout percentage in 2012 fell well short of the rates in 2008 (75 percent) and 2004 (74 percent).

In 38 of 67 counties, fewer people cast a ballot for president this time than in 2008.

Only 80,351 more people voted now than in 2008 even though the voter rolls increased by 686,812, according to the latest numbers from the state’s elections division. The vote totals will change slightly as provisional ballots are counted.

Relatively speaking, Florida in 2012 moved backward when it came to voting.

Column is here. (And sorry for missing the Orlando Sentinel piece)


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/11/3092359/voter-suppression-and-floridas.html#storylink=cpy

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