Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux is tickled that the Florida Legislature voted this year to give him and his peers across the state flexibility in establishing early voting hours. He’s also flabbergasted it took a decade to do so. “I’m very pleased, finally. We’ve only been asking for flexibility for about the last 10 years,” Lux said. Two years ago, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that cut the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, a move that led to long lines and waits at polling places in many areas.
With reform clearly necessary, the Legislature this year took the unprecedented step of listening to the elected elections supervisors and not relying so much on the Florida Division of Elections, Lux said.
“Early on, they brought the supervisors of elections into subcommittee meetings to testify and actually listened,” he said. “It was refreshing.”
The resulting legislation will allow counties to decide the number of days — between eight and 14 — during which early ballots can be cast.
It also expanded the minimum hours polls could be open from six to eight (with a maximum 12), thereby “actually increasing the voting time if counties do stay at the minimum,” according to Lux.
Lux said his plan “on big elections” such as those in a presidential year likely will be to stick with a “maximum number of days and a maximum number of hours” to allow as many people as possible to vote early.