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Nov 15 2012

Gov. Rick Scott Orders Election Review

Florida Gov. Rick Scott seems to be baffled by why so many people had to wait so long to vote in his state during the 2012 election. So much so that he’s ordered a review of the entire voting process to find out what happened and how to fix it:

Gov. Rick Scott of Florida on Saturday said he requested a review of his state’s voting processes with a particular emphasis on areas where voters waited four hours or longer to cast their ballots.

“We are glad that so many voters made their voices heard in this election, but as we go forward we must see improvements in our election process,” Scott said in a statement. “I have asked Secretary of State Ken Detzner to review this general election and report on ways we can improve the process after all the races are certified.” …

“As part of this evaluation, Secretary Detzner will meet with county election supervisors, who are elected or appointed to their position – especially those who ran elections in counties where voters experienced long lines of four hours or more,” the Florida Republican said in his statement. “We need to make improvements for Florida voters and it is important to look at processes on the state and the county level. We will carefully review suggestions for bettering the voting process in our state.”

Gee, let me take a shot at it. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you cut early voting almost in half, from two weeks to eight days, and for as little as six hours for each of those days. I know this is a complicated concept and it requires some math, but if you have 15 days to get 8.5 million votes case rather than 9 days, the lines are going to be longer.

25 comments

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  1. 1
    dmcclean

    Or… vice versa.

  2. 2
    holytape

    Math has never been a tea-partier’s friend. In fact, they are bitter enemies. It has something to do with Math facebook-friending Reality, who had an earlier falling out with the tea partiers.

  3. 3
    Michael Heath

    I think the goal here is to figure out a way for voters who Gov. Scott doesn’t like to not even attempt to vote. Long lines of Democratic-leaning voters creates a risk of cognitive dissonance Republicans seek to avoid having to acknowledge.

  4. 4
    dcsohl

    Ed’s math still raises the question of why it should take 15 days for the state to vote.

    I live in Massachusetts and we do not have any early voting whatsoever. (Absentee voting, yes, but you have to basically sign an affidavit that you believe you will be unavailable on Election Day.) So our entire state votes on the one day itself.

    I’m not gonna claim this is ideal — we *should* have early voting. But we don’t, and things manage to work out OK. (Not great, but OK.) So what is so screwed up with FL and OH that they have these horrendous lines not just on Election Day, but for early voting for a week or two beforehand?

    I’ve never voted anywhere but MA or RI, and so I just don’t get it — any insight out there?

  5. 5
    cottonnero

    When asked to comment, Governor Scott said, “They took it, our election, precious. It came to us on our birthday. Thief! Baggins! We hates it forever!”

  6. 6
    fifthdentist

    Wingnut to English translation: “Jesus! What else do we gotta do to keep those dark people from voting?”

  7. 7
    eric

    @4;

    I live in Massachusetts and we do not have any early voting whatsoever…I’m not gonna claim this is ideal — we *should* have early voting. But we don’t, and things manage to work out OK.

    The issue for voting day is the ratio of polling booths and polling places to voters. No doubt the commission will find that the state provided the right number of booths and locations, but had the wrong amount of voters.

  8. 8
    Tualha

    Another issue was a reduction in the number of polling places. Not sure if that was done at the county or state level, though, and there actually were legitimate fiscal reasons for it.

  9. 9
    umlud

    Of course, Florida could have massively expanded the number of polling places while also automating registration and voting systems, thus allowing any Floridian the ability to vote at any polling place and automatically being checked off as having voted.

    But, you know, that would mean that more people would have less difficulty in voting. Or, to put it in the frame of many conservatives: But, you know, that would mean that fewer people would really feel connected to their responsible choice of voting, and it’s not the government’s job to give stuff to people that they don’t deserve or haven’t shown that they want.

    I’m just waiting for some conservative to make an argument along the lines of “since so many people who had to wait 8 hours in line actually did vote merely proves how much people benefit from waiting in long lines to vote, and cutting that experience down is merely just an extension of the nanny state and treating adult citizens with condescension.”

  10. 10
    baal

    What fifthdentist said. He’s looking for additional ways to keep PoC from even showing up. Voilà, no lines. Q.E.D. Else, it’s nothing more than pious crocodile tears.

  11. 11
    composer99

    dcsohl:

    I daresy it’s a matter of scale.

    Florida: 19 million people as of 2011
    Ohio: 11.5 million people as of 2011
    Massachusetts: 6.5 million people as of 2011
    Rhode Island: 1 million people as of 2011

    I mean, Florida has 2/3 the population of my entire country, squeezed into 1.7% of the land area (I live in Canada).

    So I suspect it comes down to the number of voters per precinct.

  12. 12
    dave

    composer99 @11 —

    NJ — 8.8, had just survived Frankenstorm — 10 min personally, I know some people who waited approx 1 hr.

    But if youre concerned about density, I used to vote in a city that has 1/4 of your population in 0.005% of your land area, and I dont recall FL scale lines.

  13. 13
    Nepenthe

    But, you know, that would mean that fewer people would really feel connected to their responsible choice of voting, and it’s not the government’s job to give stuff to people that they don’t deserve or haven’t shown that they want.

    The woman in Columbus who voted while she was in labor gets all the stuff.

  14. 14
    Ben P

    Ed’s math still raises the question of why it should take 15 days for the state to vote.

    I live in Massachusetts and we do not have any early voting whatsoever. (Absentee voting, yes, but you have to basically sign an affidavit that you believe you will be unavailable on Election Day.) So our entire state votes on the one day itself.

    I’ll give you the technocrat answer.

    Whether a state allows early voting, and the methods by which it allows voting are all part of a trade off relating to the cost of administering elections and creating the maximum convenience to the people voting, which itself implicates some constitutional rights.

    There’s no constitutional requirement to allow early voting, but, assuming the state does it a typical way, it’s a way to save substantially on the costs of election administration.

    That is, assuming it’s typical early voting and its in one or two locations per county (i.e. the local courthouse or city hall) for a week or two, you don’t need a lot of extra personnel and only need a handful of machines per location to allow a substantial chunk of the population to vote early.

    Then, when election day comes, you don’t have to prepare for as many people to be present at polling precinct stations. That means fewer poll workers, fewer machines or printed ballots etc.

    On the other hand, you can have everyone vote on the same day, but then you have to put a lot more money into making sure there are enough polling places, enough ballots or machines etc.

  15. 15
    iknklast

    I have spent the bulk of my life in towns that were essentially whites only (this by chance, not choice), and never had to wait in lines. I was immediately ushered in, greeted with extreme civility by the people manning the polls, handed a ballot, and was out in 10 minutes. I was never asked to show ID.

    For about 10 years, covering 3 elections, I lived in Oklahoma City, right in the part of the city where there is a substantial black population. I stood in line to vote for 2 hours, making me late for work, and my work didn’t see any reason to allow any time for people who lived across the street from their polling place, so I had to take annual leave. There were fewer voting machines in Oklahoma City, even though it has many times the population of Edmond (to the north) or Moore (to the south). Where I live now is only a fraction of the size of Oklahoma City, and we have many polling places, with many voting machines at each. (Our town is so white we look like it snowed when we get together in groups).

    Coincidence? Maybe. I report, you decide.

  16. 16
    plutosdad

    @4 dcsohl
    Florida also had about 12 referendums this year, which greatly increased the amount of time it takes to vote. Of course a lot of people probably didn’t even know about the referndums before walking in, and had to read it all.

  17. 17
    comfychair

    Take two tax cuts and call me in 2014? I’m sure that will fix it. Tax cuts fix everything.

  18. 18
    jamessweet

    Gotta agree with dcsohl:

    Ed’s math still raises the question of why it should take 15 days for the state to vote

    I live in NYS, and like dcsohl’s home state of MA, we have no early voting. The longest I’ve ever had to wait to be polled was on the order of 10-15 minutes. Both of the last two elections, I have literally not had to wait at all.

  19. 19
    Paul W.

    dcsohl:

    So what is so screwed up with FL and OH that they have these horrendous lines not just on Election Day, but for early voting for a week or two beforehand?

    If you look at the history, I suspect you’ll find that long lines for early voting are mostly a response to long lines on election day the previous time or two around, 4 and/or 8 years before. (Very disproportionately in Democratic-leaning areas.)

    People in Florida know that the Republicans want and attempt to suppress the Democrat vote.

    Many therefore vote early, so that they won’t have to wait in long lines on election day, because they’re not stupid.

    And that is why the Republicans cut the early voting time—so that people couldn’t use early voting as effectively to protect themselves from vote suppression efforts on election day.

    There is nothing even a little bit mysterious about that. Nobody with a clue about the politics on either side has any illusions about why so many people want to vote early, and why the Republicans want to make that harder, too.

  20. 20
    D. C. Sessions

    The lines were only supposed to be four hours long, not twice that.

  21. 21
    Nick Gotts

    Related issue: why is it that (at least according to CNN, no state has yet finished counting the votes? In California, about 1/5 are still to be counted.

  22. 22
    neonsequitur

    I can write Detzner’s report right now:

    How to Improve Florida Elections

    Step 1: Get a new governor.

  23. 23
    W. Kevin Vicklund

    Nick-

    My guess is that CNN forgot to update the state %in. If you look at the individual counties, they are all at 100%.

  24. 24
    Ben P

    Related issue: why is it that (at least according to CNN, no state has yet finished counting the votes? In California, about 1/5 are still to be counted.

    Two possibilities.

    1. I suspect that page is just wrong, just as a random example, Iowa’s secretary of state page says they’ve already certified the results

    2. Most states give their governments two weeks to a month to certify the results. That is, the State Secretary of state has until a specific date, usually about the End of November, to reach the *official* tally and certify it. A lot of times there are all sorts of delays in this happening, but it’s no big deal as long as nothing else is happening.

  25. 25
    caseloweraz

    Neonsequitur wrote: “How to Improve Florida Elections

    Step 1: Get a new governor.”

    I think you meant: “How to improve Florida’s elections: Get a new governor.”

    That would make an efficient report — much like the old commercial in which the efficiency expert, called to the stage, described how insurance programs could be improved: “Wausau.”

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