FIRST PERSON | My name is Mary Ann Sorrentino. I'm in my late 60s. I'm a grandmother and transplanted New England feminist now voting in South Florida's Hillsboro Beach where politics are complicated.
In my native Rhode Island, our capital city's mayor served five years in federal prison after a RICO indictment and backroom deals still thrive from Newport to Woonsocket. Yet Florida's contradictions remain hard to grasp. I still feel "Republican-Latino" ought to be an oxymoron just as this year's "Jews for Romney" are.
Florida has its own dark political history. The current governor, Rick Scott, was elected despite a $600 million Medicare fraud indictment. And who can forget the hanging chads and the Supreme Court that put W in the White House after Florida's voting machines took a major technological dump?
Florida is now awash with presidential signage. Affluent Lighthouse Point and Boca Raton are drowning in a sea of Romney/Ryan signs; Obama-Biden signs are hard to find, even in so-called 47 percent neighborhoods.
Many of us live in condominiums where signs are outlawed. A feisty octogenarian in my building did put an "I (heart) Obama" sign in her ninth-story window. No one has asked her to remove it. Age must still have its privilege.
Along Florida's death-defying Route 95, some billboards charge Obama courts Saudi oil sheiks and others sneer that the president supports gay marriage and legalized abortion -- as if these were criminal activities. Beyond the presidential race, my Florida ballot will also go to decide serious constitutional questions like whether government funds will go to religious groups or whether abortion should be criminalized again. I feel that in my adopted home state, the constitution ought to be engraved in lead to preclude frivolous tampering with it.
I saw a bumper sticker recently -- black background with white lettering -- that said, "B O STINKS!" I thought it was a plug for deodorant use until I realized it was a slam at the president. Odds are the driver could be a Florida NRA member with a gun in his glove compartment, thus my reluctance to toot and give him a one-finger salute. (Did I mention that racism is alive, well and widespread in Florida -- as is gun violence?)
Four years ago, my friends and I proudly stood in line for several hours to vote for Barack Obama. I remember our joy on election night. This year I shall again cast my vote for the president with pride, hoping Wednesday's results will still bring me reason to be joyous.