It is no coincidence that the Republican National Convention was held in Tampa’s Hillsborough County. Interstate Highway 4 begins here and ends in Daytona Beach. Along the way, the I-4 corridor cuts through the eight counties that have been a focus of the last four presidential elections.
A recent Yahoo! News blog post called it “The mother road of swing voters,” and the demographics of these counties are diverse in race, age, and economic status, and nearly a million of its voters are registered as independents. In the last four presidential elections, the candidate who has won Hillsborough County has won Florida. And in those same four elections, the candidate who has won Florida has won the presidential election.
At 11 p.m. Tuesday night, with less than 50,000 votes separating the two candidates, Florida once again hangs in the balance. This time, hanging chads were not to blame. Rather, this election’s culprit may be an exceptionally long ballot resulting in lines up to three hours long. In Hillsborough County, the ballot was six pages—four of which were amendments to the state constitution and were presented in both English and Spanish. More than two hours after polls were scheduled to close, so many people remained in line that it may be well into the night before Florida’s crucial 29 electoral votes are determined.
According to state rules, everyone in line at 7 p.m. is allowed to cast their vote. Local news helicopters showed voting lines extending for blocks, but it doesn’t seem that anyone gave up and went home. Despite a full week of early voting available, these folks waited until the very last minute.