Florida election supervisors develop plan for smoother elections

2:43 PM, Jan 11, 2013   |    comments
Hundreds of voters arrived at the Miami-Dade Elections Headquarters on Sunday after learning they would get another opportunity to request, fill out, and submit last-minute absentee ballots.
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Tallahassee, Florida - Florida's supervisors of elections say they want more flexibility to choose the number of early voting days and where early voting polling places are located.

Supervisors have drawn up a proposal designed to help limit the election problems that plagued some counties last November.

Long lines during early voting and on Election Day forced some voters to wait more than six hours to cast their ballots.

Supervisors believe the long ballot, with 11 constitutional amendments just from the Legislature, contributed to the problem.

So they want lawmakers to limit their amendments to 75 words in the future - the same restriction that citizen initiatives must meet.

Plus, supervisors want the power to hold up to 14 days of early voting. Current state law limits early voting to eight days.

Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections Attorney Ron Labasky says supervisors should be able to choose between eight and 14 days of early voting.

"But that would be optional in each county so small counties that don't have a large number of voters wouldn't be forced into a situation of providing additional early voting days that they really don't have any need for."

Florida used to have 14 days of early voting before state lawmakers made controversial changes to the state's election law in 2011, including a limit of eight early voting days.

Supervisors also think lawmakers should be limited to 75 words for their proposed constitutional amendments.

"We think that they should certainly be able to operate within the 75-word limit and not have these excessively long ballots that we had in the most recent election."

Supervisors don't like the current restrictions on where early voting locations can be located. Labasky says supervisors should have the power to choose their own sites, just as they pick precincts for Election Day.

They'll push for these changes to Florida's election law in the legislative session starting in March.

Dave Heller

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