As reported Sunday by USA Today, a judge ruled Sunday to extend early voting hours in Florida’s Orange County after Democrats filed a lawsuit late Saturday “to allow more time in a presidential battleground state where more than 4 million ballots have already been cast.”
The suit was filed after the Winter Park library – where some voters stood in line for several hours — was evacuated due to a bomb scare.
As reported by Bay News 9, two suspicious packages were found – “a small cooler with a wire sticking out of it that had been left unattended on the east side of the building for approximately two hours” and a “plastic bag located on the south side of the building.”
Both packages were checked by the Bomb Disposal Unit. Sheriff’s Deputies determined that the cooler contained a number of small electronics and one unidentifiable item. The device was destroyed on-scene by deputies to insure that the unidentifiable item was rendered safe. That item could not be identified following the destruction of the package.
The plastic bag appeared to contain “miscellaneous garbage.”
Democrats also filed a federal lawsuit seeking more voting time in Broward County, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, where balloting continued until early Sunday morning to accommodate voters who were still standing in long lines when the polls closed.
Early voting has been central to the Obama campaign’s efforts to win Florida and other swing states. More Democrats than Republicans tend to vote early, and a sizable advantage among early voters in Florida in 2008 helped Obama defeat Republican rival John McCain by 3 points, 51 percent-48 percent.
On Monday, the Real Clear Politics average of 11 separate Sunshine State surveys showed Romney leading Obama by 1.5 percent.
Florida burst into the voting controversy spotlight during the 2000 presidential election, when the “hanging chad” became a household word in the wake of the contentious race between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush.
“Cards like the infamous ‘butterfly ballot’ are held in place next to a list of candidates,” MiamiSouth.com explained. “Voters use a little stylus to poke out certain holes on a card to mark who they want to vote for. The tiny bits of paper left over from punching these cards are called “Chad”
However, the machines only counted votes “when the Chad is pushed cleanly all the way through.”
In the 2000 election, “Democrats protested that some people meant to vote for Gore, but did not push their Chad out correctly. Their argument was that just because the machine can’t read the vote, doesn’t mean the vote should not be counted since the person intended their vote a certain way. The counter argument is basically that voters had instructions and if they did not vote property, their votes should not be counted because any human way of counting would be subjective.”
The rest is history.
In the 2012 election, along with the Democrat-forced early voting extension in Orange County, a second voting controversy cloud is hanging over the Sunshine State. This one casts a shadow over the rights of active military members to cast their ballots.
As Tampa’s CBS affiliate WTSP 10 News reported Friday, Navy Captain Peter Kehring – a Valrico resident who has dedicated over 30 years of his life to the service to his country — “will not be able to cast a vote on Election Day.”
Florida State Law requires county supervisor of elections offices to perform regular “maintenance” on its voter rolls to eliminate voters who have been convicted of felonies, moved out of the county, or may have died.
Voters who miss two consecutive general elections (2010 and 2008, for instance) are mailed a letter to their residence warning them they will be removed from the rolls. But since the post office only forwards mail for six months, Kehrig never got it.
While WTSP reported that the deadline to register was Oct. 8, — according to the Florida Divisions of Elections website – the registration deadline to vote in the November general election was Oct. 9.
Kehring – one of 30 Tampa are active and reserve service members who have contacted the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office — “wants legislators to amend the law to prevent service members from being wrongly disenfranchised.”
“It’s not just a right that I’ve earned by being an American,” WTSP quoted Kehring saying. “I’ve (been) trying to protect our country and I really believe it’s a right I’m being denied.”
In June, The Huffington Post reported that the Department of Justice sued Florida for its effort to purge “as many as 182,000 registered voters” suspected of not being U.S. citizens – saying “the purge violates federal voting laws.”
“The Department of Justice has an overriding interest in protecting the rights of eligible citizens to register and vote free from unlawful burdens,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
Sadly, when it comes to “protecting the rights” of active members of the United States military “to register and vote,” the DOJ has been awkwardly silent.
According to the results of the Military Times survey – released Oct. 7 — “the professional core of the U.S. military overwhelmingly favors” Romney over Obama by a two-to-one margin.
Rasmussen’s July 22 survey showed Romney leading Obama among veterans by a margin of 59 percent by 35 percent.
But Florida’s 2012 election controversies don’t end there.
As The Tampa Bay Times reported in October, the FBI is investigating the mailing of “fraudulent letters” — sent primarily to Republicans — which “falsely” informed them that “they may no longer be U.S. citizens and that they could go to prison if they cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 election.”
State officials “interpreted the letters to be a voter intimidation tactic, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in jail for each offense, or each letter sent.”
In addition to all of this, CNN warned in August that “partisan legal showdowns” regarding contentious voter ID laws in battleground states like Florida “could turn the 2012 elections into a repeat of the 2000 presidential vote recount saga.”