Posted by: thezedword | October 30, 2008

South Florida’s election woes continue

The voter's certificate I signed and mailed in twice.

The voter certificate I signed and mailed — twice.

You’d think in a place like South Florida people would be sensitive and extremely careful about handling the electoral process. The memory of the 2000 election is still fresh in all of our memories and the constant trickle of problems we’ve had since then have been a constant, nagging reminder of how much our elected and appointed officials can mess things up sometimes, directly affecting the people of South Florida, and possibly, the entire country.

This year I’m an absentee voter. I’ve been abroad for a few weeks and don’t want to miss the opportunity to fulfill my right as an American citizen, especially in this extremely important election. Unfortunately, it seems that this might occur, and not because of my own apathy or political indolence, but because the Miami-Dade County Elections Department can’t do its job correctly.

At the end of September, I applied for my absentee ballot. I filled out the necessary paperwork, mailed it in and requested my ballot via e-mail. Within a few days, I had three e-mails from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department. The first was someone else’s ballot and the e-mail was for a David Booker. The second was a “Take Back” e-mail, for lack of a better term. The Subject line read “Recall” and the body said, AB Unit (Elections) would like to recall the message, “BOOKER, DAVID #103762279”. The third was my ballot. That the Elections Department couldn’t get their e-mail list straight worried me a little, but I passed it off as a minor snafu, waited till the third presidential debate, cast my vote, and excitedly mailed it off well in advance so it would arrive in time.

Then a few days ago I received a new voter registration card in my mailbox. I’ve received new ones in the past and usually get the same registration number so I didn’t think anything of it at first. Then I realized my new card said it was registered 9/29/2008 and issued on 10/07/08, whereas my old one was registered on 02/09/04 and issued on 02/24/06. Furthermore, my address on it was not my permanent address in the States. Instead, it was 2700 NW 87th Avenue, Doral FL 33172, the office for the Dade County Elections office in Doral. My new card now said I now voted in a different municipality (originally Miami Springs, now Doral), for a different State House seat (originally 111, now 112) and in a different County Commission district (originally 6, now 12). It seemed to me that I had two different registration numbers, meaning, if I felt like stuffing the books for my candidate of choice, I easily could have. However, I was more afraid that I had been registered twice as a voter. Confused, I e-mailed the Supervisor of Elections, who forwarded the e-mail to the Absentee Ballot Manager. This is what she told me:

I have placed your request for an absentee ballot under your original registration number and I have attached your new absentee ballot (according to your Miami-Dade County residential address) along with the certificate envelope and the instructions.  Please discard the original ballot sent to you via email on October 2, 2008.

In my original e-mail, I had stated that I already voted. So, unsure if this person just told me to vote twice, I e-mailed her this message for clarification:

I have already sent in the Absentee Ballot that was sent to me on Oct. 2 using my original registration number. Will this vote be counted or will I have to revote using the ballot you attached?

This is the response I received:

Please send the ballot I sent you yesterday- the first ballot you received was under the New registration number.  The ballot I sent yesterday was on the Old registration number (which is the one we kept active).

This might seem like a simple solution, problem solved, no biggie. But I still have no idea what will happen with my original ballot. Will they dispatch someone to dig it out, burn it and erase it from public record? Or will it slip by and be counted along with the vote I’ll send in tomorrow? The ballot I mailed in two weeks ago is different from the one I just received, so did I vote for a State Representative that doesn’t represent me? Most importantly, will I cast two votes for my preferred presidential candidate? I doubt he would mind, but doesn’t that undermine the democratic process?

I’m not quite sure the answer of those questions, but as far as I can tell, the motto the people in the Miami-Dade Elections Department sign all of their e-mails with — Delivering Excellence Every Day — seems to me to be as much a bit of political puffery as the people running for president are likely to deliver.

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