By staff writer Nathan DeGraaf

Living in Florida for the past nine years, I’ve come to accept certain things with which many other American citizens don’t have to deal. Hurricanes, sinkholes, pushy, fast-paced tourists, terrorist cells and steroid-abusing mosquitoes are just some of the dangers I encounter weekly. And well, I’ve come to love the stuff. At least once a week I utter sentences like “Stay away from Bruce B Downs Ave. There’s a sinkhole south of Fletcher Ave” or “man the mosquitoes taste especially sweet this evening” or “sure, I’ll give you directions Mr. Terrorist-Tourist. Just make sure you turn left at the sink hole and thank Allah it’s not hurricane season” and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Craziness is just part of the landscape when you live in Florida. It’s like living next to an airport or a bunch of meth-sucking DJs. After a while, you don’t even notice the noise. But today I experienced one of the strangest Florida phenomenons: the voting process.

First, let me apologize to the rest of the country. If what I experienced is any indication of the way voting is working in this state, then well, we’ve screwed you again. It’s not our fault. We don’t have state income tax, we’re forty eighth in education and the rest of the world keeps sending us its scumbags. There’s simply not enough money in the budget or sanity in the state legislature to make this stuff work. Really and truly, I’m sorry. Our bad. Come visit. Have an orange. We’ll make it up to you, I promise. Try the fish.

After entering my appointed polling place, I got in the first of what should have been three lines. In the first line, a woman told me that I was “not registered to vote.”

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Let’s get ready to play, HOLLYWOOD SQUARES!

“Sure I am,” I said. “Here’s my voter’s registration card.”

After this, there was much hoopla as the woman who told me I wasn’t registered spoke with a woman who had a very official looking badge on her shirt.

“You’ll need to come here,” said the badge-wearing woman.

The badge-wearing woman made me fill out a form or two with my name, social security number, and preferred method of suicide bombing, then put a phone call to the district’s head office. I’m not sure what she said to the district’s head office because she spoke in a bunch of numbers and codes and other indiscernible verbal garbage. Anyway, after she finished and hung up with the head office, she said to me:

“How long have you lived here?”

“Nine years.”

“Have you ever voted before?”

“Yes, ma’am. In the last election.”

“Huh,” she shrugged.

“Hmm,” I waited patiently.

“I guess they’ll let you vote provisionally,” she said.

“What does that mean?”

“It means they’ll need to review your status so they can determine if you’re eligible to vote.”

“But I voted in the last election. I have my registration card. I’m a Florida State Citizen for the love of God.”

“Well,” she said, with the air of someone who’s an expert on such matters. “These things happen.”

So, to summarize:

  • My eligibility status was reviewed by a sub-department of the head office of the People in Charge of Screwing Up Another Presidential Election.
  • I voted, or at least tried to.
  • My preferred method of suicide bombing involves napalm, toothpaste and a statuette of Woody Woodpecker.
  • I rest easy every night knowing there was at least a 35% chance my vote was counted.
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Seriously, try the Mahi Mahi. It’s in season.

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