WASHINGTON — It wouldn’t be a close election without a fight over voting in Florida.
Saturday was scheduled to be the final day of early voting in the nation’s biggest swing state, where most polls have shown the race extraordinarily close. In many places, particularly in south Florida, where Democrats typically get their largest majorities, lines at polling places stretched for hours, with voters in some places waiting past midnight.
Worried that significant numbers of their voters might have been deterred by the wait, the Florida Democratic Party went to court in the wee hours of Sunday morning seeking an emergency order for polling places to remain open today. The suit cited “extraordinarily long lines” which it blamed on “inadequate polling facilities” in south Florida’s three big urban counties, Miami/Dade, Broward (Ft. Lauderdale) and Palm Beach.
The state Legislature, which has a Republican majority, passed a law last year that reduced the number of early-voting days from 14 to eight and eliminated early voting on the Sunday before the election. In 2008, Democrats had voted heavily on that day. Many African American churches had organized congregants to go directly from services to the polls. On Thursday, the state’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott had refused a request from Democratic officials to extend voting hours this year.