Supervisors discuss election problems with Florida senate

By on January 15th, 2013

Election supervisors from several Florida counties are turning in their wish lists for how the state’s election law needs to change. The Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections heard from nine supervisors of election Monday about what they think caused problems during the 2012 election.

The first issue addressed was the the multi-page ballots containing Florida’s 12 proposed amendments.

“The length of ballot increased the cost and complexity of elections and was, quite frankly, a source of complaints that we received as supervisors from a number of voters across the state,” said David Stafford, Escambia County’s supervisor of elections.

Because of the amount of paper, county election supervisors agreed it was challenging to find the money to print and the space to store ballots until the election.

A common theme that echoed among county election supervisors was that ballot printing services should be held accountable for mistakes and mechanical failures.

When asked to share how Duval County was so efficient in the process, supervisor of elections Jerry Holland said they turned in their ballots minutes before the deadline. He requested that counties be allowed to offer early voting on more days at more sites. Many supervisors agreed.

“We still had two-hour long lines,” Holland said. “Starting a few days earlier would have been helpful.”

Supervisors were asked if they support reinstating early voting the Sunday before the election. Most supervisors did not have an opinion, but Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said minorities vote in high numbers that day.

“I think we’re disenfranchising this particular community by not allowing them to vote early on that Sunday,” Bucher said.

The county officials were grateful to have the opportunity to express their concerns.

“All too often when situations like these arise, those of us on the ground or in the trenches are overlooked for workable solutions,” said Sharon Harrington, Lee County’s supervisor of elections.

The Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections will continue hearing testimonies during the next few months before submitting its suggestions to the legislature.

Leila Milgrim wrote this story online.

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