Elections Supervisors Propose Massive Changes

Florida’s elections supervisors are proposing a radical change in the way they conduct elections. The evolving plan calls fop combining 10 or more precincts into "super precincts.”

The idea is to get away from having one Election Day and turn it into a season of voting.

More than two million Floridians voted early this year. Their biggest complaint was long lines.

A new idea being pushed by the state’s election supervisors would eliminate traditional neighborhood precincts; combine them into super precincts with more machines, more poll workers and keeping all of them open for the entire voting period.

Reggie Mitchell of the People for the American Way says at first blush, the idea looks good.

"But I’m encouraged by the idea of an eleven day season with the longer days and it would reduce the lines. So that’s absolutely encouraging."

A poll by the non partisan Collins Center taken before the proposal was made public suggests the supervisors plan is in tune with most voters. Dr. Susan MacManus is a University of South Florida political scientist and says, “We would like it to be more efficient, bigger places, shorter lines, more poll workers."

While more machines and bigger places are what voters and supervisors say they want, the lawmakers who must make it happen say the devil will be in the details.

Early voting had its problems. Besides long lines there were too few places, or they were in the wrong place. Without strict controls, insiders worry that fairness could get sidelined by efficiency.

Sen. Bill Posey sponsored the early voting law.

"What assurances can we build in that you won’t have to travel 15 miles to go vote, and your neighbor might just get to vote across the street."

The biggest obstacle the supervisors’ proposal will have to overcome is that this year’s election worked so well, but Floridians appear to be wiling to embrace changes in the way we vote.

During last month’s election, the number of absentee ballots was double the usual amount and the number of people voting before Election Day tripled.


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