For the fourteenth day in a row, Moises Yaber, 55, filled cups with water from an orange cooler he pushed around in a shopping cart for the hundreds of people lining up outside West Miami City Hall to vote.
His matching orange Community Relations Board T-shirt signified he was one of the Miami-Dade County employees volunteering to answer questions, aid the elderly and assist voters navigate whatever obstacles they faced during the two-hour wait between the end of the line and the election workers at the polls.
"We’re not involved in the election process. We’re just here to help people,” said Yaber.
While the rest of the country waits for a replay of the 2000 debacle to hit Florida this election, Yaber watches over his slice of it, reveling in his role in American democracy.
A lot of the people voting here are foreign-born citizens, said Yaber. “You can see the emotion … It’s gratifying, man.”
Earlier, a 96-year-old man, hunched over by age, chose to work his way through the line instead of voting from the parking lot, said Yaber. In Florida, voters who qualify for curbside voting can vote in a car outside the polling place from a machine brought to them by election workers. Florida also opens a limited amount of early-voting polling places for two weeks before Election Day.
After he came from Cuba and became a U.S. citizen, Yaber used to bring at least one of his seven children to the polls with him to vote until they were all old enough to vote themselves, he said.
The one thing about the new electronic voting machines, he said, is that using them takes something away from the voting experience. “When I punched the card (in the old machines), I was striking one for democracy,” he said, holding his clenched fist in front of him.
On Sunday, he spoke in Spanish while pouring water for a Cuban-American woman who had finished voting after spending more than two hours waiting in line. But she realized she had left without getting an “I voted” sticker, so he told her who to speak with to get her sticker, he explained later.
She came out with two stickers, one for each shoulder.
“The freedom of this country is very important to me, and I want to show everyone that I voted,” she said, translated by Yaber.
He smiled and said: “I love to see this.”
Then he pushed his shopping cart with the water cooler and the stacks of paper cups to another part of the line.Posted by Zack Johnson at October 31, 2004 10:13 PM