Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fixing Our Flawed Elections

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fixing Our Flawed Elections

Article excerpt

Legislature won't have to look far to find causes

Florida's Legislature and secretary of state made little progress toward solving the problems that plagued some counties during the general election -- long lines at the polls and inordinate delays in ballot-counting.

But at least there was some consensus that the status quo is unacceptable.

Before the final day of voting Nov. 6, many legislative leaders, some local elections supervisors and the secretary of state, who has an oversight role, were content with limited access to early voting sites and a lengthy ballot.

Fortunately, Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford recently declared that the state and its counties would improve the elections system.

Gaetz said, referring to Election Day in some counties: "Floridians should never again have to stand in lines for six and seven hours to vote."

Apparently legislators got the memo and, during hearings yesterday, questioned Secretary of State Ken Detzner -- who has statewide elections-oversight duties -- about the problems that emerged.

Detzner was short on specific answers but said he would visit five counties -- Lee, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and St. Lucie - - that he said "underperformed." (Locally selected supervisors are responsible for conducting elections, in accordance with state law.)

Manatee had problems too

It won't hurt for Detzner to get an up-close look at certain counties, although we think a case can be made for hiring, under temporary contracts, efficiency experts to make data-driven assessments for the aid of local supervisors.

But there is a risk in focusing narrowly on problem counties.

For instance, delays were not limited to heavily populated areas of Southeast Florida or a couple other counties. In mid-size counties, such as Manatee, voters who opted for early voting experienced delays up to two hours. …

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