Groups ask for task force to review Fla. elections

League of Women Voters, NAACP, AARP among groups calling for change

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A coalition of advocacy groups is calling on Gov. Rick Scott and lawmakers to appoint a task force that can review problems from Florida's election.

At simultaneous news conferences Tuesday morning in Orlando and Miami, members of the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, the AARP and other group said Tuesday that the task force should offer recommendations to lawmakers before the start of the next legislative session.

The groups say election problems include budget cuts to the state's election supervisors, a reduction in early voting days, a record-long ballot, lines of up to six hours at some precincts and a four-day delay in knowing which presidential candidate won Florida.

"The state simply can't afford to be in the national spotlight once again -- as a punch line for late-night comedy -- as this could have a profound and damaging impact on our ability to compete for jobs and new businesses moving to Florida," said LWV President Deirdre Macnab.

A similar task force was created after election problems surfaced in Florida in 2000.

Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland believes the problem with the election was not a lack of early voting days, but a lack of early voting sites.

"That's not the solution to the problem, as far as just changing the days or hours," Holland said. "It's really, how do we increase early voting? And to increase it, you really need more locations."

Holland and other election officials are traveling to Tallahassee on Wednesday to meet with Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Holland said he and other county officials will trade notes and talk about what needs to change for the next election.

Holland mentioned possible solutions, like restoring polling places eliminated by budget cuts and limiting or eliminating referendums for presidential elections. Holland says they're wordy, time-consuming for voters, and can add pages to a ballot.

"The key is, 'How do we make the fixes that apply to a variety of different counties, large and small, that in a sense will fix the problem, but not be something that can be debated as far as helping one party or another," Holland said.

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