Election Diary: Adopting a Sunshine State of mind

The once monolithic Cuban vote in Florida is breaking apart. George Bush has made several mistakes over the past year - notably banning all travel by Cuban-Americans to the island - that have infuriated the community. Further, younger Cubans are ignoring their parents. Among Cubans born in the US, John Kerry enjoys a remarkable 2-to-1 lead.

The only trouble is that Kerry has done nothing to deserve it. His policy on Cuba has waved around like a palm tree in a Florida hurricane. The Democrats only got round to opening an office in Little Havana last month, and even then all their leaflets were in English.

According to a good source in the party, the Democrats will have 800 lawyers available in Florida to challenge any discrepancies on election day. But while the media clucked over Governor Jeb Bush's shiny new electronic voting machines, the Republicans have been discreetly pushing the case for absentee voters who use paper ballots rather than touchscreens.

About 70,000 people will vote by absentee ballot. As you can fill in the form at home, you used to need a witness to authorise your vote. But this summer the Republicans rammed a bill through the Florida legislature abolishing that safeguard. Now all you need to do is sign the ballot paper. Your signature is then compared to the one you gave when you first registered to vote at 18. Since your signature changes over time, this opens the door to all sorts of legal challenges. Even more alarmingly, people's absentee ballots can be collected by party workers.

And the Democrats are equally complicit in this. They didn't oppose the bill because they thought they could also benefit from the changes. As Lida Rodriguez-Tasseff of the Miami-Dade Electoral Reform Coalition says, "America is a democracy in spite of its voting system, not because of it."

During Friday night's debate in Miami the Democrats raised $3.8m (£2.2m) in 90 minutes, one Kerry aide told me. By the end, money was pouring into their website at the rate of $45,000 a minute.

What most of the donors probably didn't realise is that the money cannot be used by John Kerry - both candidates have now accepted federal funds and cannot make use of any more private cash. Oh well, there's always that long-shot congressional race in Oshkosh or Kissimmee.

The Democrats are predicting that the "flip-flop" depiction of Kerry has no more mileage left in it. Why so? Not because of his performance in the debate, but because the Republicans brought out a TV ad showing Kerry tacking this way and that on his windsurfer. "Once they started using humour to try to make the case, we knew the attack had run out of gas," said one Democrat. I wouldn't be so sure.

Tom Carver is the Washington correspondent for BBC2's 'Newsnight'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas