Hillsborough County election officials articulated some of the same points as voter rights advocates when asked Monday how to solve long lines and improve the democratic process at Florida’s polls. Return early voting to 14 days, from eight during this year’s general election, they advised. Don’t tamp down voter registration by placing additional restrictions on third-party groups. And don’t limit early voting sites to libraries and government buildings. The response from Department of State interim general counsel Gary Holland, on at least that last point: “Talk to the Legislature.”
“I was a little taken aback by that,” said incoming Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer. “I was like, I thought that’s why you were here.”
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner began his tour of elections offices in Hillsborough, a place he said largely got it right during the recent elections, to learn benchmarks that could be applied elsewhere. From here, he and his top staff visit five other Florida counties — Broward, Lee, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and St. Lucie — that grappled with long lines and other challenges that again exposed the state to national ridicule.
Detzner said his goal is to take what he hears to the Legislature in the form of recommendations to make things run more smoothly next Election Day. But asked afterward his thoughts on a two-week early voting period or placing additional hurdles on third-party registration groups, Detzner articulated previous arguments.