Voting rights groups say Floridians face persistent barriers to vote that could result in more ballots not counting in November. The groups say Florida should encourage more people to register to vote, that voters are inconvenienced by changes in polling places and that voters are not always told about a new law that gives them a second chance to fix their absentee ballots when they forget to sign them. The League of Women Voters, NAACP, Advancement Project and other groups cited Orange, Polk and Manatee counties for problems they claim they found in last month’s statewide primary election.
Carolyn Thompson of the Advancement Project said her group’s goal is “free, fair and accessible” elections. “For us, this has been an uphill battle in the state of Florida.”
The groups said Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett’s elimination of polling places requires some black voters to travel longer distances to vote.
Bennett said the polling places served so few voters, it no longer makes sense to keep them open. He said that months ago, before closing them, he invited the NAACP and other groups to discuss the changes and that he remains open to revisions in two years.