After weekend confusion, a lawsuit and some serious voting miscues in Miami-Dade County on Sunday -- really, it was a mess -- South Florida elections supervisors are redefining "early voting" to allow people to cast ballots today.
What it means is, you'll be able to go to an elections supervisor's office, pick up an absentee ballot, fill it out and then turn it in.
It's not really early voting. That ended Saturday under Florida's new voting law and with Gov. Rick Scott's refusal to extend the early voting period. This is absentee voting and the usual caveats apply: Your ballot will not be tabulated on the spot and you'll get no notice if you make a mistake that invalidates your selections.
And there will be lines. Still, it's an opportunity to vote if you can’t make it to the polls on Tuesday.
The pseudo-early voting approach is controversial and the Palm Beach Post interviewed experts who say it may be regretted:
“This is a hook for a post-election challenge,” said professor Josh Douglas, who specializes in election law at the University of Kentucky School of Law. “All 67 counties aren’t offering voters the same opportunities. You can’t have a handful of counties doing their own thing without any state authorization.”
However, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said supervisors are free to run elections in their counties as they see fit. There is nothing improper — much less illegal — about offering in-person absentee voting at some locations and not others, said Chris Cate, a spokesman for Detzner.
Brian Burgess, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Florida, shared that view. “As long as they’re following the law, everyone wins,” he said.
Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, offered a sharply partisan view. He said the Democratic Party’s lawsuit and its ability to persuade elections supervisors in a handful of counties to accept absentee ballots Sunday smacks of desperation.
Voters in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties can just go to their supervisor of elections office to vote absentee. In Broward, they must call ahead (954-712-1964 or 954-712-1974) for ballot pick-up appointment times.
Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections office: 2700 NW 87 Avenue, Doral.
Broward County Supervisor of Elections: Pick up and drop off absentee ballots at the Supervisor's voting equipment center in the Lauderhill Mall, 1501 N. W. 40 Ave., Lauderhill. Completed ballots will also be accepted at the Supervisor's main office in the Broward County Government Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale.
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections: 240 S. Military Trail, West Palm Beach.