Elections Office cuts may not happen after all

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the city is still hashing out its nearly $1 billion budget and the number of cuts that are in store for city agencies, one area that was slated to be hit hard, the Supervisor of Elections Office, may survive the budget ax.

Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said cutting 2 percent from his budget would mean long lines and less early voting time. Now, that may not happen.

Some council members believe elections are too important to mess with. That's why they may find more funding to make voting easier.

Voter turnout was very low for the primary last month, but that may not be the case in November.

"And what we don't want to do is turn away voters," Holland said.

To do that, Holland told the council he needs money to keep operations the same. He said his office can't cut anymore.

Council members appear to be listening. They asked: How much extra is needed to keep basic service, to restore early voting sites and avoid combining some precincts into large ones.

The answer is $127,000. The council is looking at various areas, including reserves to fund it.

"Well, we are optimistic, obviously, with the former council president coming back and saying how much money you need to restore those precincts and get us a reasonable amount of early voting hours," Holland said.

The council will make that decision on Tuesday, but Councilman Bill Gulliford said it still might be a tough sell.

"I know the suggestion he made is maybe take it out of reserve," Gulliford said. "For him, there could be some justification because of the number of elections he has coming up. But you do that for one, you got to be able to justify why you don't do that for everybody."

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.