Gov. Rick Scott on Friday defended the state’s handling of the election, while his elections chief said the state bears some responsibility for long voting lines and late vote counts.
As his top elections official conceded that the state bears responsibility for long lines and late vote counts that have made Florida a target of national ridicule, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday defended the state’s handling of the election.
“We could have done better. We will do better,” Secretary of State Ken Detzner said on CNN during pointed questioning from anchor Ashleigh Banfield.
But in an exclusive interview with the Herald/Times, Scott made no apologies for the problems that led to an incomplete final vote count Friday, three days after the election.
“What I’m trying to do is improve the way government works,” Scott said. “I believe in efficiency. I believe every vote has to count. I want to have a good process that people feel good about.”
The governor said he would solicit suggestions from legislators and county election supervisors on how to improve Florida’s elections machinery. But he said the long ballot with 11 statewide amendments and a surge of early and absentee voters were part of the reason for long lines.
“All these ballot initiatives have an effect on how long it takes somebody to vote,” Scott said.
On CNN, Detzner twice demurred when offered a chance to say he was sorry for inconveniencing so many voters. He said the length of the ballot and record turnout of 8.4 million contributed to bottlenecks that forced people in Miami-Dade to wait several hours to vote. He did concede that the state should have allowed counties to add more early voting sites.
“The solution is that in current Florida law, there’s a limit on the number of locations that supervisors can use in early voting. We need to take a very serious look at that and open up the number of locations,” Detzner said.
From author Carl Hiaasen on CBS (“a freak show”) to The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart (bleeped-out expletives for Florida), writers and comedians have had a field day lampooning the state’s latest electoral embarrassment. The scrutiny would have been immeasurably worse if Ohio had not sealed President Barack Obama’s re-election.
But it’s no joke, and the most ferocious criticism is aimed squarely at Scott, the former hospital-chain CEO who repeatedly urges people to hold him accountable for his performance.
“Look, It was a close race. We want to make sure every vote gets counted. Every vote’s important, so I think the secretary did the right thing,” Scott said. “Here’s what people should feel good about: We have a diligent and thorough process, and every vote’s getting counted.”
Thousands of Floridians have flooded Scott’s email in-box with criticism, some promising not to vote for him when he seeks re-election in 2014.
“The fact that Florida is an embarrassment yet again falls within your purview,” Danielle McWilliams, a teacher in Stuart, told Scott in an email. “This is yet another reason why you should be out of office.”
Paul Adams of Sarasota ridiculed Scott’s choice of Detzner, a former lobbyist for the beer industry, as the state’s chief elections officer.