Why The Lines Were Long: Florida Lacks A Useful Booths-To-Voters Formula

Nov 16, 2012

A Deficit Of Booths? Voters stacked up in Lakeland, first to vote, then to get their ballots scanned.
Credit Chuck Welch on flickr

Apart from the politics and the voting law that caused so many voting problems, the Associated Press is pinpointing another reason for Florida's election day train wreck.

Basically, the state has no central formula for allocating voters to precincts or booths and scanners to voters.

It's another one of those stories about how bad Florida is at something that other states have been on top of for years:

New York restricts the ratio to no more than 800 registered voters per station. Pennsylvania sets a range of 300 to 400 registered voters per station, depending on the type of election. Ohio recommends a ratio of 175 registered voters per station.

In Orange County, home to Orlando, the ratio of non-handicapped voters to station ranged from 665 to 112 at the start of Election Day, although elections office workers drove around with some 300 extra voting booths and distributed them throughout the day when requested by poll workers.

Miami-Dade calculates a ratio of 70 voters per voting station but that's based on an assumption that only a third of registered voters show up on Election Day, even though two-thirds of the county's registered voters cast their ballots this past election either by going to their precincts, early voting or by absentee ballots.

One of the uniform requirements that Florida does have is for pen-and-paper ballots that require tabulation in a scanner. On Nov. 6, the wait for scanners created new lines for voters who had already waited several hours to vote.