Then there are the less acceptable approaches to early voting. By Monday of this week, there were a multitude of reports of voters being verbally harassed at early-voting locations in various areas of the Sunshine State. Most of the accusations centered on Democratic supporters attempting to verbally intimidate perceived Bush supporters. And if that weren't enough, consider one small community in South Florida that last week reportedly declared a "state of emergency," the reason for which was unclear, but the result being the use of government resources to shuttle primarily Democrat-leaning condo residents to early-voting sites.
Of course, with the polls just as tight as we predicted months ago, the early-voting wrinkle simply adds another ring to the circus that was fully expected in this year's presidential contest, particularly under the big top of big tops, Florida. Not only does the growing chaos in this most critical swing state set the stage for new and more intricate potential lawsuits. It may well render polling in the last days -- and certainly those already questionable exit polls on Election Day -- almost useless.
No current poll of the presidential contest is taking into account the concept that some who are surveyed in these early-voting states may have already voted or may vote before Nov. 2. Thus, the concept of "undecided voters" becomes extremely confusing. And as for those exit polls, with such chaos reigning at early-voting locations, it is inconceivable that any polling of early voters could possibly be weighted or scientifically merged with surveys of those exiting the polls next Tuesday to any degree of accuracy. That means whatever we hear about exit-poll projections in states like Florida on Election Night will have to be taken not with just a grain, but with a pound, of salt.
We are swiftly entering the point in a national election in which the ads, television reports, newspaper articles and candidates themselves blend into one big blur. Sept. 11, an inherited recession and the tough realities of war combine to give Kerry a shot at victory. For Bush, the hope is that when voters really enter the sanctity of the voting booth, they will find it hard to turn out a man who led them through such unparalleled tough times.
And so it is in the hands of the voters and the vote counters. And with such antics as we are already seeing in Florida, this race may well end up in the hands, once again, of the lawyers. Oh, joy.
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