Brace yourselves, Florida voters: The election ballot you’ll see this fall is longer than ever. It’s so long that voters will have to fill out multiple sheets with races on both sides, then feed those multiple pages through ballot scanners, one page at a time. It’s a pocketbook issue, too: Some people who vote by mail will have to dig deeper and pay at least 65 cents postage and up to $1.50 to return their multipage ballots in heavier envelopes. More than ever, county election supervisors say, people should vote early or request an absentee ballot to avoid predicted bottlenecks at the polls on Election Day. “This is the longest ballot I can remember,” said Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark. “The voter who sees this ballot the first time may need smelling salts.”
The ballot will be chock full of choices, for president, U.S. Senate, Congress, the state Legislature, county offices and merit retention for judges, all the way down to city and county referendums. But what may prompt some voters to rub their eyes in disbelief is the Legislature’s decision to place 11 proposed changes to the Constitution on the ballot, some of which appear in their entirety. “They have really created a monster,” said Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer Jr. in Key West.