Columns

Not Enough Early Voting Days? What Baloney!

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: November 6, 2012 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ
How I long for an inquiring press. Just once in all this early voting mess, won't somebody, anybody question the Democrats' outrage and need for legal redress over a shortage of voting days? 

 In the first place, this "shortage" isn't exactly hot news. More than 18 months ago the state passed a law that cut back early voting days from 12 to eight. Almost immediately it set off a wave of court challenges and stirred a litigation-minded group called Project Vote to insist the new law was "part of a coordinated and undemocratic effort by some politicians to erect barriers to the ballot box."

Now here we are in 2012. "Barriers to the ballot box" has been a fine whine, a signature crescendo for the Democrats ever since the first presidential debate, when they realized Barack Obama had fallen behind Mitt Romney in swing-state Florida.

On Oct. 5, two days after that debate at the University of Denver, Vice President Joe Biden implored millions via robo-email -- myself included, "Help us! Send money, help us mobilize ... work with us to get our people to the polls." National, state and local Democratic Party operatives knew they had to pull out all the stops to motivate the Herculean corps of energized voters that put Obama in office in 2008.

Who knows why the media chose to remain lashed to the raft of diversionary voter-fraud stories as early voting approached. Perhaps they wanted to implicate Gov. Rick Scott in some kind of perceived election hanky-panky? The point is, standing on the doorstep of the eight days of early voting, they had a chance to look not just at how badly it could work, but how well.

If only ...

If only the ballot weren't 12 pages long and written by government lawyers. OK, it was too late to make changes there, but I can't recall where it was offered as a reason for voting delay in any newspaper or in any blog or on any TV news segment.

If only the newspapers that embark on editorial tirades about early voting just once would mention a solution other than more hours. Perhaps the suppression argument is their fallback if Obama falls short -- that's all I can think of.

The Florida statutes allow early voting sites at permanent supervisor of elections offices, city halls and public libraries. There are plenty more options than the one SOE office Susan Bucher is using in Palm Beach County. Couldn't the media have looked at reducing early voting lines by increasing voting locations and adding booths? There's not a word in the statutes that limits the number of booths or poll workers at any early voting site.

I'm sorry to say it, but in 2012, on voter fraud, voter suppression and early voting in particular, the Florida media look like a litter of calico kittens. The Democrats put out milk, the reporter kittens purr and lap it up.

No one thinks to ask, why aren’t the local supervisors of elections adding more locations or more polling booths? Easier and perhaps more useful for later to make it Rick Scott’s fault.

The governor could have allowed early voting from Labor Day clear up to Nov. 6 and still there would have been lines on the weekend before the election. Same as there are at stores at the mall the weekend before Christmas.

Another good question: How does adding more days effectively deal with the problem of long lines?

Consider this: If Starbucks had customers screaming for a latte and waiting in half-block lines every morning, would its first solution be to open on Sundays? Or would the manager add more coffee pots and staff to peak hours so people in line could buy what they want, Monday through Saturday?

Imagine if Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Bucher owned Macy’s. She would have one cash register open in the store the day after Thanksgiving ... and then blame Rick Scott for not extending the holiday shopping days.

I wish some bold mainstreamer out there -- certainly they're not all kittens -- would have suggested that if it's lawsuits the Democrats want, they might file them instead against the supervisors of elections who short-staffed the early voting sites, who didn't demand that extra ballot machines and workers be brought in.

Personally, I think the answer is to dump Election Season and return to one voting day, Election Day.  Remember those?

No shenanigans, no incessant whining, no lawsuits, no imported poll watchers from Poland. Supervisors of elections could spend all their time not as unwitting political footballs, but educating voters and preparing for an orderly and letter-perfect Election Day.

It's not going to happen, but I can dream.



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.








Comments (8)

Frank
8:38PM NOV 10TH 2012
And just to further make the point I made below - here's what Republican Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner had to say about early voting locations on CNN Friday:

"But the approximately 300 early voting locations across the state -- limited to city and county government centers, elections offices and libraries -- may not be enough, he said during a contentious interview. “Let's talk about the solution,” Detzner said. “The solution is that in current Florida law there's a limit on the number of locations that supervisors can use during early voting. We need to take a very serious look at that and open up the number of locations.”

So yes, Nancy, once again you had your ducks all in a row when you asked (and in so doing criticized Susan Bucher) within the statement that "why aren’t the local supervisors of elections adding more locations" . . . . . . with 67 counties, 300 election places would average less than 5 places/county . . . I believe Palm Beach County had something like 14 early voting locations. . . . . . . . . . much more than their "average" . . .

As I said, pathetic . . . . . .
Frank
6:42PM NOV 9TH 2012
Gee, I go traveling for a week and look what kind of nonsense shows up - - - - "why aren’t the local supervisors of elections adding more locations" . . . . . .

Maybe because the Governor (and the Legislature) effectively LIMITED the number of sites statewide, and is now reacting to severe criticism and trying to propose to ALLOW some of the changes you blame on the Supervisor for not carrying out . . . . . also, I'm sure you're perfectly willing and supportive of an increase in taxes to pay for the additional ballot printing machines (i.e. 101 ballot versions), staff salaries, etc., that would allow early voting to work . . . . of course . . . . . .

I don't see you running for Supervisor . . . . but then, we know how that would work out, judging by the attention to detail (or lack thereof) that your columns demonstrate . . . . . .

Pathetic. . . . .
CJ
5:24PM NOV 8TH 2012
Nancy, your Starbucks analogy is ridiculous. A better analogy would be mailing in and receiving your car plate renewal registration via the mail as opposed to going down to the local DMV office and waiting there to get it (remember you can do this online, in person, or by mail). Also, you generally receive a courtesy reminder about renewing so that means you get nearly a month notice to renew. Even if less if it's greater than an 8 day notice that means more time is allowed to renew your car than you are allowed to vote early.
D.A.
12:31PM NOV 7TH 2012
Nancy, I understand that for old parasites such as you, waiting in line for two to five hours isn't a problem. You have nothing better to do anyway.

However, for working men and women who have families and lives, having to wait two to five hours to vote is a real problem.
Chris here
10:48PM NOV 6TH 2012
The democrats are whining about voting days and times democratic areas because there are always long queues in democratic areas of Florida - and almost none in republican areas...
The administrative budget is just so much lower per voter in the densely populated southern areas... and I'm saddened to say that it very much looks like the Florida Republican party intended it to be this way, since they've controlled the election administration for decades.
Karl Leuba
10:18AM NOV 6TH 2012
Interesting take on early voting, even more interesting position on making it easier for people to cast a vote. Perhaps you should read the second section of the 14th Amendment, keep in mind that non voters are frequently a quarter of the electorate. Florida, after expanding access to the ballot has now cut it back. For some people that is a definite attempt to keep some people from voting. I would be worried about that if I lived in the Sunshine State.
An Independent (Democrat) Agrees
6:56AM NOV 6TH 2012
I vote mostly Democratic and have to agree with most of this column. Seriously, where were all of these people with their outrage when Alex Sink needed 60,000 votes to defeat Rick Scott? If anyone cared or had any enthusiasm two years ago, we wouldn't be having this conversation! People need to learn they get what they don't vote for.
Karl Leuba
10:19AM NOV 6TH 2012
Bravo, you nailed it.

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