Local Voting Reform

Polling problems put Florida in the national spotlight again last week.

Labor unions and democratic lawmakers are calling for election reforms, but local elections officials do not seem to think it is necessary here.

Considering this year's long ballot, voting went relatively smoothly here in Bay County.

Elections Supervisor Mark Andersen does not believe a longer early voting period would be worth the cost. An extended early voting period is the central issue for those wanting election reform.

"There's always room for improvement. But keep in mind, you've got close to 500 people doing a one day job,” said Andersen. “They come in and do their very best with the length of the ballot that we had."

Andersen’s main concern is the added cost. Last week's election cost more $200,000.

"We can't afford double the number of precinct election equipment,” said Andersen. “Another 100 thousand for the election equipment, for that one day scenario. When we can do early voting, cut the cost, cut the volume and work it out over a period of time."

Andersen does agree local election officials should have more control over precinct locations. State law limits them to city halls, libraries and branch locations.

But, Andersen's biggest issue is the public's demand for instant results. "We've got to stop this overnight gratification process. It has got to stop. The election is not decided on election night. It has got to stop."

In fact, Andersen points out that several races here in Florida are still undecided. The officials results here in Florida will not be certified until Friday. Democratic legislators are proposing a bill that will increase the number of early voting days and the number of polling sites.

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