Under-performing counties to get election scrutiny

Florida lawmakers single out 5 counties with voting problems

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Voters in a Tallahassee precinct on Election Day.

Beginning a months-long look at what went wrong on Election Day 2012, the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee was told Tuesday that five Florida counties under performed in the general election.

Broward, Lee, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties were singled out for scrutiny over long lines at the precincts, late vote counts, uncounted votes and other problems.

"Sixty two of the 67 counties performed very well," Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner told the committee.

More early voting sites would have helped, the panel was told. While the 17 early voting sites in Duval County handled an average of 30,000 people, the three sites in Pinellas County handled an average of 210,000 voters.

One lawmaker suggested election supervisors use the model of fast food restaurants: When the line gets to long, the franchisee needs to open another restaurant nearby or lose business.

Other issues contributing to Election Day issues were a long ballot and a record number of absentee ballots.

"There will be some legislation that will be out of this committee by the first part of session," said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg.

Beyond more early voting sites, other suggestions are likely to include more equipment and better funding for elections.

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