Super-Sizing Your Precints?

Florida’s elections supervisors think they have a solution to long lines in neighborhood precincts on Election Day: super-sized voting centers open for days instead of hours.

Charlotte County’s supervisor Mac Horton says consolidating dozens of scattered sites into centrally located voting centers saved their primary election after Hurricane Charley.

Mac says, "I think we lost better than a third of our precincts, so if we hadn’t been able to do that it would have made it impossible for us to hold our election."

Election protection activist Reggie Mitchell is skeptical. He worries having fewer super-sized precincts could make it tougher on some voters.

Reggie says, "I think that the supervisors do have the best of intentions, but we are concerned about transportation to the polls in the poor and minority communities."

Elections supervisors say you can get around transportation issues by using a mail-in ballot instead of worrying about getting a ride to the voting booth. Super precincts would also solve the controversy over provisional ballots, since you could vote at any center in your county, but the Bush administration isn’t sold on the idea yet.

Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, (R) Florida, says, “It’s probably one that needs to be walked through a little bit more because again you have a transportation issue, you have potentially a lot of people going into a precinct. Would the lines be even longer?”

Voters may be slow to embrace the change too. Despite the popularity of early and mail-in voting, nearly seven out of 10 voters still used their neighborhood precincts on Election Day last year.