Miami-Dade voters endured lines up to seven hours long during the last presidential election in part because the county delayed a key once-a-decade decision to evenly divide voters among precincts. Now, with a looming gubernatorial election in November, the county plans to delay the decision once again. Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his appointed elections supervisor, Penelope Townsley, said Thursday they have decided to push back “re-precincting” until early 2015. The reason: The county thinks the reshuffle would be too much to handle in the same year that Miami-Dade plans to install new electronic sign-in books at every polling place. “We’re trying to cram in too much at one time,” Gimenez told his elections advisory group Thursday. “We don’t want to create that confusion.” That’s the same reason Gimenez and Townsley, after consulting with county commissioners, decided against the new precincts in early 2012. The uneven distribution contributed to the long lines, as did the 10- to 12-page ballot and fewer early-voting days.
The numbers were so unbalanced that some precincts, such as one at Jefferson Reaves Sr. Park in Brownsville, had 193. The largest, at South Kendall Community Church in Country Walk, had 8,303.
This time, the mayor and elections chief said they hope to ease voters into new precincts next year, when several smaller municipal elections will be held. The first countywide election under the new scheme would be the January 2016 presidential primary.
Not redrawing precincts could still cause problems this year, especially for voters stuck in the largest precincts, said Daniel Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida who studied Miami-Dade’s 2012 presidential election data.