When I was a cadet at the Air Force Academy in the 80s, we were taught that the answer to any question that began with "Why" was "No excuse" as in Q: Why is the sky blue? A: No excuse.
It was intended to get our teenaged minds out of the habit of explaining and rationalizing failure and make problem solving the first instinct. It was annoying and effective. And Florida election officials could use some of that discipline right now.
Why did Florida have the longest wait time in the country?
Why were any voters forced to stand in line for 6 hours or more, some still standing at midnight or later to vote?
Why were so many poll workers ill-informed about the proper use of provisional ballots?
Why weren't their more machines and staff on hand when massive turnout was predicted and early voting had been shortened despite a lengthy ballot?
Why didn't every Supervisor of Election extend hours for over-the-counter voting?
Why are we still counting? Why are we once again a national punchline?
No excuse. No excuse, whatsoever.
And believe me, we are a a laughingstock again right now. Stolid and snarky pundits alike are having a field day. Google "Waiting" "Florida" and "election" for an avalanche of stories.
Then there is this scathing commentary from Jon Stewart about Florida that describes us as thankfully irrelevant, like a benign tumor.
Beyond the usually "Flori-duh" references, check out the memes popping up all over the social media.
Dubbed one of "the Internet's 8 best Election Night creations":
They even reached back and dusted off classic pop culture references to mock us.
So in the spirit of not accepting excuses from those in charge of Florida's elections and not making any ourselves as Floridians, it is time to strike while the iron is hot. The former Republican governor and the ousted head of the GOP have disclosed and criticized what they claim is a clear strategy of making elections harder to help conservative candidates. We have to make the long lines and the voter suppression backlash a rallying point right now while the memory and the public drubbing are fresh.
This problem isn't going to get any easier in Florida. When he voted for laws that make it harder for people to vote, then-Senator Mike Bennett, a Republican representing District 21 had this to say:
Do you read the stories about the people in Africa? The people in the desert, who literally walk two and three hundred miles so they can have the opportunity to do what we do, and we want to make it more convenient? How much more convenient do you want to make it? Do we want to go to their house? Take the polling booth with us? ...
Why would we make it any easier? I want 'em to fight for it. I want 'em to know what it's like. I want them to go down there, and have to walk across town to go over and vote.
That guy just got elected as the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections.
This ongoing, predictable election debacle hurts Florida. It shakes our confidence in the outcome of elections. It discourages full participation in the process for those who can't afford to miss work or physically handle the long lines. In Homestead many voters with children in tow were plunged into darkness when the Homestead stadium turned off their lights.
This repeated election embarrassment also hurts Florida's reputation in ways that matter. It sends a message that harms our ability to attract the best and the brightest. Being the viewed as a state that lacks the infrastructure to even count votes doesn't inspire confidence in the high salary job generating companies looking to relocate or expand.
Finally we should send a thank you card and a key lime pie to Ohio and thank them for deciding the election, sparing us the amplified embarrassment of our collective blunders being under a larger national microscope.
Why don't we fix our broken election process in Florida?