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Florida Early Voting

Finally, I have a day off.  I've been working early voting every day since Monday. 

For the most part we've been busier than normal.  It seems the county, and especially the older voters, are finally responding to the ease and convenience of Early Voting. Younger voters were early to embrace it, but many older voters would say they prefer going to their local polling place because it gave them a sense of community and that's what they were used to.  But now it seems they are finding that sense of community to remain intact at Early Voting sites.  YAY!

I've been working exclusively in the north county site this week.  It is located in the local library which makes it very convenient for many voters, as seen by the fact that the numbers of voters increases when the library is open.  For instance, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, we open the polls early for the folks who want to vote on their way to work, at 7am.  That worked better in south county I think, as they are near the entrance to the largest employer in the county, Eglin Air Force Base.  But at our library location, we had only a few folks come in, and voting didn't pick up until the library opened at 10am.

Some voters are unhappy with our limited hours, thinking, I suppose, early voting should be open 7am-7pm just like the polls are open on Election Day.  The problem with this is that

1. By law, we're limited in how many hours we can be open for early voting.  Each county can set their own schedule, but they can only be open for 8 hours a day at most.  Days to be open are also adjustable for counties. I understand some south Florida counties are open on Sunday, since they have significant Jewish populations who are unable (or choose not) to vote on Saturdays.

Within the restrictions, each county can adjust hours to suit their own needs, thus we open 10am-6pm most days and on two days open early and close early.  The Supervisor of Elections and his staff study the voting habits of our residents and attempt to be open when most folks need us to be.

2. Even if we could be open longer, or more often, the problem is, as usual, staffing. Special training is needed for early voting. We use state of the art equipment, which is expensive and very different from our normal precinct equipment. We have to use Ballot on Demand technology because we have to be able to print out a ballot for every individual in the county, which means all 52 precinct ballots as well as splits within precincts for various generally mangled congressional districts, and for local races.

Also, Florida has, generally speaking, a LOT of amendments on every general election ballot. We have a full page of amendments, and might have had a lot more had not the Florida Supreme Court struck down three very LONG additional amendments the legislature tried to add on.

So anyway, if your state (or country!) offers early voting, give it a try. I'm sure election officials and volunteers everywhere are doing their best to make your voting experience pleasant and convenient and memorable!

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That sounds really complicated

I would be very willing to work for our elections board if we did early voting, but it would certainly take a statewide proposition, if not a constitutional amendment to make it happen, plus a whole hell of a lot of money. I'll bet it's going to come along pretty soon, but the question is, when will they want to pay for it?

At the Election Board, the only place you can vote in any precinct in the County, you MUST use a machine to vote, which some people find annoying, but with our current tech, it's the only way to bring up the correct ballot for everyone.

We currently have one of the biggest voting districts in the country, and a huge market for early voting. I suspect that I would probably be one of the workers hired to manage it, too. ;) It'll be an interesting ride, to say the least.

I wonder how many people will walk in during THIS election and ask us how come the library isn't in the space we're using. They haven't been there for two years, but never mind. These are the same sorts of people who actually miss hanging chads.