Florida Has Voting Orangutans, But No More Chad

In the year 2000, I was a mediator working in a courthouse in Tallahassee, Florida.  You remember that place.  It was the stage on which America chose a President through the courts.  I worked on the same floor as the courtrooms that hosted the legal battles that determined the course of our nation, and for twenty-eight days, the Great State of Florida was the center of our national destiny.  I was immersed in it.  The insanity of that time was an unwelcome intrusion, though, and the past two weeks leading up to and following the 2012 Florida primary  have brought those memories roaring back.

Remember chad?  We had dangling chad, we had dimpled chad, and we had the press convinced that the elderly residents of Florida were too feeble to punch through a paper ballot with a sharp instrument…

We had OJ Simpson- style motorcades transport ballots from Miami to our courthouse for counting, complete with Federal Marshals and helicopters to prevent unknown persons from hijacking the ballots. Florida made sure that those ballots were safe so that nobody could steal the election, and the courthouse was evacuated while the ballots were secured in a vault.

We had press crews from all over the world, in need of a shower and sleeping on the lawn.  And we had celebrities from all over the world who dropped in to make a speech in front of the cameras.

I want to take this opportunity to apologize again to the Reverend Jessie Jackson for stepping on his walking shoes as he departed the speaker’s podium at the courthouse back then.  I was really trying to get out of his way, but people were packed together like sardines in a can.  I did say, “Sorry, Jessie,” but he just growled at me, his face two inches from the tip of my nose, and then the crowd parted and he was gone.  I’m certain someone captured the event on video, and I would be tickled if someone came across it and posted it on YouTube so I can share my fifteen seconds of fame with my grandkids someday.

This year, Florida had Orangutans who voted on their Ipads for their choice in the Republican primary, and the press was pleased to report that their collective vote was indicative of the way the rest of Florida would vote.  I had two immediate responses to this important news:  First, I wondered if the orangutans were registered Republicans, and then I realized that I don’t even own an Ipad.

The election insanity is growing, and we are ten months to the general election.  We don’t have chad in our voting anymore, and that is a relief.  Florida gave up on punch card ballots after our national embarrassment, but I’m sure that something equally strange and unpredictable will take its place.

Just hang on for the ride.

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