Why Our Editor Asked Every Airline for a Free Flight to Florida

November 7th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

More than a month ago, ATTN: senior social content editor and Florida native Omri Rolan applied for an absentee ballot to vote in the November 8 election. He didn't receive it until about 4:00 p.m. PST on Monday — less than 24 hours until Election Day.


In the hours leading up to the climactic deliverance, Rolan tweeted a humble request: He tagged every major airline and asked for a complimentary flight from California to Florida so he could vote in-person.

Social media representatives from United Airlines, Delta, American Airlines, and JetBlue Airways — though sympathetic to his situation — were ultimately unable to make the accommodation.

"Every day I was like, 'It's going to come today, it's going to come today, and I'll just overnight it,'" Rolan told me. "But today it's like, 'Ok this is literally the last thing,' and I wanted to feel like I did everything I could in order to vote."

But this issue is much bigger than Omri.


The Associated Press reported on Monday that more than 800,000 mail-in ballots in Florida — mostly requested by Democrats — hadn't been returned by Sunday. It's not clear how many of those unreturned ballots had only just arrived at the voters' residence over the weekend or on Monday, but it's possible that there are other Rolans out there scuffling to fill out and overnight their ballots in the eleventh hour.

Rolan's friend also experienced problems securing an absentee ballot and shared it in a Facebook post.

Why Florida matters.

In a swing state like Florida — where the presidential contest is in a dead heat and the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) is also tight — the saying "every vote counts" has taken on a new meaning.


The 2000 election proved how consequential each vote could be — especially in Florida — with the state going to former President George W. Bush by a margin of less than 600 votes, following a recount.

Florida has 29 electoral college votes, and both presidential nominees are counting on high turnout on Tuesday to secure the presidency. In a piece titled "Trump Really, Really Needs to Win Florida" from last month, FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten put it this way:

"Florida tends to be a crucial battleground state in presidential elections (more on this in a moment), but it’s become even more pivotal in recent weeks in the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton has improved her position nationally and in Florida, but she’s made a bit more progress in the Sunshine State, moving it closer to the national average. Clinton leads by about 3 percentage points nationally and by about 1 point in Florida. That’s made it more plausible that Clinton could hold onto Florida while losing some light-blue states."

ATTN: reached out to the Florida Secretary of State's office for comment, but a representative was not immediately available.