The first time I tried to vote, I stood in line in an elementary school hallway in Michigan. One class of kids had clearly been given an assignment to draw their favorite food, and I had a lot of time to study their Crayola stylings on the wall as the line inched forward over the course of several hours. Every last kid had drawn pizza. Behind me, someone said, “When I get done voting, I’m going to eat a whole pizza.” At the front of the line, a poll worker told me that I was in the wrong place. They gave me a new address, which was off the side of the highway and too far to walk to. I tracked down a friend with a car and we drove to the new place, which turned out to be a trailer park. It also had a line. This time, the walls of the polling station were decorated with a history of mobile home innovation that ended triumphantly with the invention of the modern manufactured home, which was no longer mobile. When we got to the front, the poll workers looked at us like we were crazy. They said we had to go back to the first polling site.
Election supervisors and the League of Women Voters have a new complaint with Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature over early voting. After years of complaints by supervisors who struggled with historically long lines at the polls in 2012, lawmakers last year expanded the list of early voting sites to include fairgronds, civic centers, courthouses, county commission buildings, stadiums, convention centers and government-owned community centers. But when the city of Gainesville — which is heavily Democratic — asked if it could use the University of Florida student union for early voting in next month’s municipal elections, the state said no. “The Reitz Union is a structure designed for, and affiliated with, a specific educational institution,” says an advisory opinion from Maria Matthews, director of the state Division of Elections, which is run by a Scott appointee, Secretary of State Ken Detzner. “The terms ‘convention center’ and ‘government-owned community center’ cannot be construed so broadly as to include the Reitz Union.”
State Sen. Dan Soucek of Boone said he supports fairness and equity in voting when asked about his co-sponsorship of bills that would impact college students and where they vote. Soucek responded to several questions about Senate bills 666 and 667, which would bar parents from listing their children as dependents on state tax forms if the children register to vote at a different address. The state typically grants tax deductions ranging from $2,000 to $2,500 per child dependent. Soucek said that his co-sponsorship of the bills means he wants to be in on the discussion of a proposal that interests his district — “but this isn’t my bill,” he said. The senator said his support for the bill is motivated by basic principle and by a specific event. “(It’s about the) basic fairness and equity of voting, and what standards does a voter need to have to vote in a community?” he said.