Politics: Brickell’s Vote-mageddon

I voted early in 2008 on the Sunday before the election. That day works for me. It would have worked for me this year, but it didn’t work for Governor Rick Scott. So with nearly half of the early voting days cut, and a mini phone book as a ballot, it shouldn’t be a surprise I walked right into Brickell’s Vote-mageddon.

The Brickell Vote-mageddon didn’t follow the rules of your usual voting strategy: it didn’t care if you went early in the morning, or avoided the lunch hour, or thought you could get a jump on the after-work crowd; it punished you all the same with an unmoving line.

The voting booths were a good football field away in the condo’s common room, and every voter was rushing for inches at a time. There was nowhere you could go, because you were only the last person in the line momentarily; dozens of people kept queuing up. It would be mad to leave after investing so much standing still.

A woman came out. We all looked at her for news from the inside. She said she had been there since nine in the morning. Six hours to vote.

It seemed strange, people must have been going in because the line moved ever so slightly, but there was no steady stream of voter exit.

The rule of this thunder dome: two men enter, no one leaves.

Sensing a captive audience of hot dog chompers, Ricky’s Arepas burst through the gates and set up shop at the polling line.

Three-and-a-half hours later I passed the straight line portion of the wait, and entered phased two: the snaking of the line. Half an hour before the polls closed I was deceptively near the end. I could actually put my foot on the curb of the building.

A man had a pizza delivered to him in line. I wonder what the tip was. I broke down and got a dog from the arepa cart.

At seven there was a cheer from behind me in line. When I looked back it was Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. His head was surrounded by a halo of light from the news crews following him. He had a determined look as he shoved aside the mass of humanity so he could get to the polls. He got some cheers. There were a few boos, too. The same mayor who cut off the ballot collections in Doral on Sunday – and the Republican who wouldn’t ask fellow Republican Gov. Scott for an early voting extension – had come to save the day.

As I reached to turn on my phone so that with the last drop of juice I could tweet this out, Gimenez walked out of the polling place talking to cameras and happily patting reporters on the back. His stay: less than five minutes. The line continued still.

I finally voted 5 1/2 hours after I lined up. North Bay Village’s WSVN reported 2 1/2 hours later that the last Brickell Vote-mageddon voter had voted. Soon after, President Obama was announced as the winner, and Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley said the county’s totals would not be counted till sometime the next day.

Always the optimist, I’ll say it was worth it.

About Frank Maradiaga

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