Supervisors of Elections testify in Tallahassee, ask for changes to law after Election Day problems

TALLAHASSEE -- Two months after some voters waited seven hours or longer to cast their ballots and other problems plagued the state on Election Day, the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee listened to testimony from nine Supervisors of Elections to consider changes to the state's election laws.

"There is enough blame to go around," said committee chair Jack Latvala (R) Clearwater. "Let's acknowledge it and move on."

Supervisors pressed senators to increase early voting days from eight to as many as 14, to allow them to open additional early voting locations and to limit state Constitutional amendments to 75 words.

"You need to use the knowledge of the local supervisor," said Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. "You can't always cookie cutter everybody in the state. If we could go to the [South Florida] Fairgrounds, if we could go to the South County Civic Center, if we could go to our huge convention center, I think there would be some better, viable options."

Bucher and Gertrude Walker, the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections who was criticized for how she handled the recount of the 18th Congressional District race between U.S. Rep. Allen West and Patrick Murphy, said the State of Florida should hold the manufacturers of voting machines and software accountable for problems after several memory cards failed in St. Lucie County and elsewhere.

"I hope that the legislature really takes seriously our recommendations because we are the ones who really know how to run elections in our counties," said Walker. "Our recommendations are genuine. We are only concerned about the voter. And, we're concerned that transparency and efficiency is the process. And, the voters deserve that."

"I think it's good when somebody can stand up and say, you know, "I was wrong," said Sen. Jeff Clemens (D) Lake Worth.  "I'm hoping the legislature does that and says we don't need to be putting eleven Constitutional amendments on the ballot at any one time ... and try to make some changes to make sure that we protect peoples rights to vote and we don't make them wait in line longer."

The day-long hearing was the first of two hearings scheduled at the Florida State Capitol this week.

On Tuesday, the Supervisors of Elections are scheduled to testify before the House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Elections.

The legislature is expected to consider their recommendation when the legislative session opens in March.

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