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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dan Gelber asks Rick Scott to extend early voting hours



Four years ago, then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist extended early voting hours at the urging of Democratic state Sen. Dan Gelber, who pointed to the long lines of Floridians (mostly Democrats) waiting to vote early. Now Gelber is requesting Gov. Rick Scott do the same. The odds of Scott doing that? 10,000,000-to-one.

Here's Gelber's letter:

Dear Governor Scott: 

Out of respect for the rights of all Floridians to vote, please issue an Executive Order expanding the Early Voting period to include Sunday, November 4.

When you signed House Bill 1355, you shortened the early voting period from 2008 levels by nearly a week, and by as much as 72 hours in some parts of our State. Today the result of that action is seen in the longest voting lines that many Floridians have ever had to endure. In parts of Florida many citizens – including veterans and seniors – have had to to wait for as many as 5 hours to simply express the most fundamental right guaranteed to them in a democracy. In my own City of Miami Beach, an elderly African American women passed out in front of city hall over the weekend after waiting in excess of an hour in the hot sun. An ambulance took her away. 

Is that what you envisioned when you and the Legislature lengthened the ballot and shortened early voting? Election supervisors across the state report long lines continuing – in my county of Miami-Dade each day of Early Voting has seen more voters and longer lines than the day before. 

Both your predecessors, Governor Crist and Governor Bush, when confronted with a voting system unable to adequately process voter turnout, issued executive orders expanding the time period for voting. In the last Presidential Election, Governor Crist saw the long lines and hardship and expanded early voting to 120 hours. Both Governors, Republicans, did not try to divine what candidate or party they were helping, they simply believed it was unfair to their constituents and ran afoul of our shared democratic values.

 This year the absurd length of the ballot coupled with the substantial decrease in early voting hours and days, has caused even greater dislocation at Florida’s polls than confronted Governor Crist. While another full day of early voting won’t solve this problem, it will certainly improve the situation.

Just as your predecessors did, I urge you to act on behalf of all Floridians who seek simply to exercise their right to vote and issue an Executive Order expanding the Early Voting period to include Sunday, November 4.

[Last modified: Thursday, November 1, 2012 12:00pm]


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