At the urging of the Obama campaign, Florida voters are showing up at elections offices around the state to fill out absentee ballots.
This comes on the heels of elections supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach counties advising voters to get absentee ballots and mail them.
The reason: long ballots and possibly long waits.
Ion Sancho has been the Supervisor of Elections in Leon County for 24 years. “What we’re telling citizens is that this is going to be the longest ballot you’ve ever voted on in your life,” Sancho said.
Sancho calls the coming election a perfect storm of unintended consequences.
He gives three reasons for this:
- All of Florida’s eleven proposed constitutional amendments are on the ballot in their entirety.
The amendments used to be listed with only a 75-word summary. But Sancho said the Florida Supreme Court found that the ballot language submitted by lawmakers was not fair and easy to understand as required by law.
“So the Legislature, rather than write a clear and unambiguous and untainted partisan language,” Sancho said, “decided instead to put the whole amendment on the ballot.”
- Voters also have less time to cast ballots early.
They had 120 hours of early voting in 2008. This year, they will have 96 hours at most -- a decision made by the Florida Legislature.
- Many elections offices have reduced the number of voting locations.
Sancho said Amendment 1, passed in 2008, reduced property taxes and cut his budget.
“Property taxes are the basis for funding local governments,” Sancho said. “When that passed, now local governments no longer had the same pot of money available to provide the same level of services that had been offered in 2008.”
It all adds up to the potential for long lines at the precincts.
Voters can avoid those lines by filling out an absentee ballot and mailing it or dropping it off at the elections office.