1. Florida Politics

Broward County election officials want flexibility on early voting

Published Dec. 13, 2012

If Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes had one word to summarize what she needs to reduce long voting lines in the future, it would be "flexibility."

That was the message Snipes delivered to Secretary of State Ken Detzner at a meeting Wednesday morning, part of Detzner's five-county tour of counties that he said "underperformed" in the November election. Detzner visited Miami-Dade on Tuesday; the other counties are Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Lee. He kicked off his tour in Hillsborough on Monday as a benchmark county.

Broward used 17 early voting sites in November and "the space in all but three of those sites (is) inadequate ... ," Snipes said. "We as supervisors of elections in large districts, knowing our districts, need to have the flexibility to make these adjustments."

State law limits early voting sites to elections offices, libraries and city halls, but not all such government facilities have enough space to accommodate thousands of voters and the necessary machines, Snipes told Detzner.

If Broward could choose some larger sites, then extra machines would help, she said.

Sites should be able to handle 400 to 500 voters per hour, but one site could only handle an average of about 153 an hour, her staff reported.

Noting the high volume, Detzner said: "You can't process enough people per hour; if you can't, you are going to have long lines."

Detzner said he has heard a consistent message from counties that they want flexibility in terms of early voting sites.

"People talk about one size doesn't fit all," he said.

Detzner asked Snipes about the number of days and hours she would like to see for early voting. Snipes said she preferred the 14 days allowed before the Legislature passed H.B. 1355 in 2011 that limited it to eight days.

"When you have something and take it away, it creates issues," Snipes said. "My preference would be to have 14 days."