Long voting lines spark top election official's recommendations
February 4th, 2013
03:14 PM ET
2 years ago

Long voting lines spark top election official's recommendations

(CNN) – The long lines at Florida polling stations on November 6 have led the state's top election official to recommend expanded early voting and shorter ballots.

The suggestions, issued Monday by Secretary of State Ken Detzner, come after harsh criticism of Florida's voting system, which was the subject of national attention even before long lines and reporting delays came to light after Election Day.

While Detzner's report indicated the 2012 general election "was a fair election as a whole," the process "should be improved upon."

"The area for improvement most commonly mentioned was the length of lines at polling places, which were believed to have been caused by the record number of voters, a shortened early voting schedule, inadequate voting locations and a long ballot," the report read.

Early voting should take place for a maximum of 14 days, Detzner recommended, and should occur on the Sunday before Election Day – a voting day that is popular with black voters. He also said voting locations should be expanded to include city halls, courthouses and public libraries.

Ballots were also too long in November, Detzner said, advising there should be a word count on legislative amendments put up for a vote.

Florida made headlines on Election Day after some waited in voting lines for hours at a time, even after the president had been declared the winner. The battleground state was also the last undecided state in the presidential contest. CNN projected that Obama won Florida on the Saturday following the Tuesday election.

Some criticized Republican Gov. Rick Scott for not extending the number of days for early voting, but Scott said he was simply going with what the law stated. In 2011, Florida's Republican-controlled legislature reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to 8, and eliminated voting on the Sunday preceding Election Day.

Scott also came under fire in June for a push to remove non-eligible names from Florida's voter rolls months before the presidential election. Using information from Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the state identified more than 100,000 names of non-eligible voters that could potentially be on the lists illegally.

Critics say the plan unfairly targeted minorities, and paint it as an attempt to dissuade typically Democratic voters from going to the polls.

Scott, however, contended at the time that the move was necessary to remove the names of non-citizens from the lists, and polls showed that a majority of Florida voters approved of the measure.

On Monday, Scott said he would work with the state legislature to make Detzner's recommendations into law.

"Following the November election, many Floridians were frustrated with the inefficiencies, confusion, and delays they found at some voting locations," Scott said in a statement. "Most counties did not experience any significant difficulties or delays. These recommendations by the Secretary of State are important reforms that can be done at the statewide level. "


Filed under: Florida • Rick Scott
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    First one to spew ye ole voter fraud shibboleth wins the intertubes.

    February 4, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Wanna know what I think? I think there should be a national standard, some uniform set of voting laws, which would apply to every state during years when there is a general election for POTUS. Can you imagine a local election where some precincts are open for longer or shorter hours? Where different precincts were allowed to offer differing policies on a host of issues that affect The People's access to the polls?

    We wouldn't allow that. Capricious voting laws like that in a state would unquestionably be ruled unconstitutional. So why do allow exactly that to occur from one state to the next? If all precincts should all be the same for the same ballot, shouldn't all states be the same when voting for POTUS?

    February 4, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    It's ironic that all these God-and-Country right-wingers want to limit voting, especially the "souls to the polls" efforts by many churches who bus parishoners to the polls to facilitate their voting. If those voters were majority Republican, the righties would be screaming about how not only were their voting rights being elected, but it was yet another "attack" on Christians by the "Liberal Left".

    February 4, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    @Rudy NYC: I agree with your call for national standards. The whole country should take my state's example and institute vote-by-mail. We get the ballot a couple weeks ahead of polling day, which gives you lots of time to read all the measures and make your decision. Voter participation is higher than the national average here – and it especially helps the elderly, infirm or anyone else with barriers to physically get to the polls.

    Secondary thought: Maybe this is yet another reason why the Repubs want to get rid of the US Postal Service ...

    February 4, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    Oops! Correction: If those voters were majority Republican, the righties would be screaming about how not only were their voting rights being elected, but it was yet another "attack" on Christians by the "Liberal Left"."

    Should read: If those voters were majority Republican, the righties would be screaming about how not only were their voting rights being INFRINGED, but it was yet another "attack" on Christians by the "Liberal Left".

    February 4, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    @Sniffit: "First one to spew ye ole voter fraud shibboleth wins the intertubes."

    You know, for a bunch of supposedly "dead" voters, those Floridians sure held up in the long lines and heat ...

    February 4, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. cbp

    The Secretary of State for Florida is just discovering this now. Where has he been?

    Unfortunately, states rights politicians will never agree to a set of voting laws. Someone would complain the Federal Government is overstepping its bounds. Unfortunately no one seems to care that Americans are being denied the right to vote.

    February 4, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. Name lynn

    You found out that cheating is going on now about voting, you people should have done something along time ago just not now.

    February 4, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Michael

    This whole thing is sickening, for twenty years I defended this country and it was NOT to allow things like preventing people from voting. I agree with Rudy NYC, that from a voting stand-point elections should be mandated from the federal level. Voting should be easier than purchasing a gun, not the other way around.

    February 4, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. LibParrots

    No Rudy. No one wants to know what you think, especially since your comments indicate a deficiency in reasonable and factual thought. Anyway, I waited in line to vote too, who cares?

    February 4, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  11. kayla

    the repugs would do anything to win an election, even though it keeps backfiring on them

    February 4, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. Andi

    Just another way of discouraging minorities from voting.

    February 4, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. PaulCat

    Look out Floridians, Scott must be up for re-election. Will you fall for it again?

    February 4, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  14. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    The gop bafoon Rick Scott will be kicked out in his next elections . He is totally responsible for the long lines and attemped vote rigging to try and swing the vote for romney the tax cheat and should be in jail along side the four time loser and failure romney !!!!

    February 4, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. darthere

    Why do people need ANY early voting days? In California we vote on the day of the election or we vote by mail. Are you trying to tell me that your life is so busy that you need 14 days to fit in voting. I still like the joke: "Because we are expecting heavy voting ALL Republicans will vote on Tuesday and ALL Democrats will vote on Wednesday."

    February 4, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. ghostriter

    "Following the November election, many Floridians were frustrated with the inefficiencies, confusion, and delays they found at some voting locations," Scott said in a statement. "Most counties did not experience any significant difficulties or delays. These recommendations by the Secretary of State are important reforms that can be done at the statewide level. "

    Of course, most countries didn't experience delays. Only the ones that tend to go democrat.

    February 4, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. ghostriter

    In Ohio, they attempted to have longer hours in republican districts than democratic ones. This was after attempting to allow longer hours for military (republican voters).

    Now, they are attempting to deflate the democratic vote even more by giving less populous counties (suburban, republicans) more footing with larger counties (urban, democratic).

    That is quite the hustle they got going on.

    February 4, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    From what I heard, it took less time to read "War and Peace" than to go through the ballot that West Palm voters had to face. This is why we need early voting in all states, and weekend voting on the first full weekend in November instead of one day. To cut down on lines if they don't want to increase early voting or weekend voting, there should be one polling site for every 1000 voters!

    February 4, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |