Fri January 11, 2013
Republican Party Spokesman: ‘More Than One Way To Fix' Voting Problems
The elections supervisor in the state capital says the Legislature will have to make changes to avoid what happened during the last election.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have filed bills in Tallahassee to increase the number of early voting hours.
Proposals by the Democrats call for a return to 14 days of early voting.
The bill filed by Miami Republican Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla would add extra hours to early voting, but it only allows for one additional day -- the Sunday right before the election.
Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho oversees voting around Tallahassee. He says seven-hour lines like the ones reported last November won’t be resolved by adding just one day.
“The large urban areas of the state – the Miami-Dades, the Hillsborough counties, Palm Beach counties – they need the additional time,” Sancho says.
“We’re going to have to go back to close to 120 additional hours of early voting. That’s the only way the state of Florida can actually accommodate 11 and a half million (registered) voters.”
Sancho says Florida only had about 35,000 more voters in 2012 than in 2008. But this time, they had just eight days of early voting instead of 14.
Brian Burgess, communications director for the Republican Party of Florida (a position he formerly held in Gov. Rick Scott’s office), says there is more than one way to fix the problem.
“Seems to me that just having the local supervisor add more voting locations and voting booths would also work,” Burgess says.
Budget cuts at the local level led to fewer voting locations in some counties.
Other differences adding to wait times included a much longer ballot. The Legislature wanted voters to see all of the language for constitutional amendments instead of just the summary.
Burgess says most counties didn’t experience exceptionally long lines.
“The possibility remains that HB 1355 [the law that shortened early voting time] wasn't the sole cause of the problem,” Burgess says, “especially in places like Palm Beach County, which has a long and embarrassing tradition of failure on Election Day.”
Whatever solution makes the most sense, Burgess says the Republican Party of Florida is all for it.
“We all agree that there is a problem that needs to be fixed,” Burgess says. “A logical approach would be to examine all of the ways to increase our state's ability to handle a higher volume of voters. More hours and more days is one way. More locations and voting booths is another.”