Growing up Jewish in Western Pennsylvania, there were always two things I could count on: Jell-O being served at all family gatherings and having a grandparent "winter" in Florida. Now that I'm an adult, I have both parents and a grandmother living in Palm Beach County year-round. As I headed to visit them for Rosh Hashannah, I wondered what the political climate was going to be like. My mother, grandmother and most of her friends were staunch Hillary supporters and were bitterly disappointed when she suspended her campaign. In the months since, was there still anger? Had they come to Obama's side? Were they moved by Sarah Palin? This is what I hoped to find out.
What I found when I started poking around surprised me. While there is still frustration that Hillary is not their candidate, what frustrates them even more is the sense that it doesn't matter what they do at the polls on November 4th because their vote probably won't even be counted. This is not because Hillary isn't on the ballot. It is because of the mistrust of the entire Florida election process. The hangover from the infamous 2000 Gore v. Bush election is still sharp and painful. Having their votes in the Democratic primary be discounted has only served to sharpen their tongues.
"Florida has the worst way of elections." says S.H. of Boynton Beach. "Every time I go to the polls it makes no difference. Every time we vote there's a discussion, a recount and nothing seems to work."
This year many Floridians are planning on voting early (voters in Florida can vote in person starting 15 days before the election date) as they are predicting long lines with heavy voter turn-out. The state has also instituted new voting processes including the introduction of optical-scan machines hoping to streamline voting and alleviate voting irregularities. However, in the face of a recent judicial race vote recount in Palm Beach, these stopgap measures have done little to ease fears or instill trust in the process.
DW of Boyton Beach refers to elections in Florida as "an atrocity" and plans on voting early in hopes that her vote might count.
As the economic crisis hits retirement funds and Sarah Palin's interview gaffs headline the news broadcasts, many Hillary supporters find themselves backing Barack Obama with more and more conviction. They see McCain as another 4 years of "Bush politics" and are even more fearful of Sarah Palin being a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
"She has no experience and it is frightening to think that she could be the President." says L.D. of Delray Beach. "Comparing her to Hillary is insulting; especially as a woman. It also doesn't give me a whole lot of faith in McCain's ability to make decisions that are in America's best interests."
So whether in support of Obama or in opposition to McCain, these Hillary Clinton supporters will go to the polls and vote for the Democratic candidate in hopes of helping put America back on track to being a leader in the world. However, these votes comes with a great deal of cynicism and doubt.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it was phony again. McCain is a good friend of [Governor Charlie] Crist and they're gonna do funny things I think." says LS of Boynton Beach.
Can Florida conduct and deliver a fair election? Palm Beach residents aren't so sure. As SR of Delray Beach says, "They don't call it Flori-Duh for nothing."