Early Voting May Change in Florida

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

Tallahassee, FL - In 2008, long early voting lines from one end of Florida to the other caused then Governor Charlie Crist to keep polls open not eight, but twelve hours a day. In making the announcement, Crist said “Early voting sites will be open from 7am to 7pm.”

More than half of the votes cast in '08 were cast early or by absentee. Current law allows local supervisors to set the days, locations, and times of early voting over a two week period. But pending legislation sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley would cut early voting down to just 6 days before an election.

The intention, really, is less days with more complete hours, and I think that’s the direction we’ll see this move”, says Baxley.

The bill also says students could no longer change their address from one county to another on election day.Under the proposed changes, neither the media, party activists, or a candidate could talk to any voter in line, anywhere.

And groups like the League of Women Voters would have to turn in any voter registrations they collect within 48 hours. Voting advocate Brad Ashwell from the Florida Public Interest Research group say the bill say it is a solution in search of a problem.

“This bill would lead a lot of third party voter registration groups to just not operate in this state. It creates a timeline that’s just unworkable” says Ashwell.

Shortening the amount of time for early voting is opposed by most elections supervisors. The legislation also creates a Presidential Preference Primary Commission to work with other states in setting an early date for a Presidential Preference Primary that will not cost the state delegates at a national convention.

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