“We had at points in the day 300 people lined up...,” Snipes said. “That was really unfair at the last minute.”
Detzner said that he was hearing a lot of common issues in the counties — especially the length of the ballot, which contained 11 constitutional amendments.
Voters can expect even more wordy questions in the future because of a forthcoming state law that any ballot initiative must contain the full text of a constitutional amendment or revision including stricken or underlined text.
Though the wording on state questions was complicated, the ballot didn’t generally grow in length in Broward. In 2008, due to county questions — and in some cities local ones — the ballot was about four pages, or eight sides. The ballot was generally the same length in 2012 — but it had those complicated statewide constitutional amendments.
After the meeting, Detzner did not indicate what he will recommend to Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature, saying that he was in Broward to “listen and learn.”
Another wrinkle this year: sluggish mail service. In the past, Broward delivered absentee ballots to the post office in Oakland Park and watched them being process there. This year, as a result of cutbacks at the post office, those ballots were then transferred from Oakland Park to a post office in Opa Locka to process the ballots, Snipes’ staff said. That appeared to slow down the process and led to voters calling in asking why they hadn’t yet received their ballots.
Broward election officials met with post office officials during the election season but “they couldn’t really give us a good answer what was happening...,” said Mary Hall, who works for Snipes.
Snipes said “maybe we need to approach Fed-Ex and UPS.” She also said after the meeting that she plans to approach the county commission to ask for more money for additional equipment.
After the school board completes redistricting in 2013, Snipes said she will consider whether to redraw precincts. But Snipes said that in heavily populated western Broward, shifting voters from one precinct to another one nearby only shifts the long lines — it doesn’t eradicate them.
One issue that didn’t surface during the meeting was that county election officials found hundreds of ballots in the Voting Equipment Center after election day. Snipes said that while the media “made it seem we were crawling under tables and chairs” to find ballots, that wasn’t the case. She has previously said that the ballots were not “lost” and “found.” Detzner said in an interview he didn’t ask about it because he was satisfied with what he has heard from Broward and said that it has happened elsewhere.
Several state legislators attended the meeting including Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood), who formed a Broward elections task force. That task force plans to put together a report that it will send to the Legislature.
For several years, Broward has talked about building a new headquarters for the Supervisor of Elections. The Broward County Commission is expected to discuss early next year two potential sites and once it settles on a site it will take about two years to build, said Alphonso Jefferson, assistant to the county administrator. The county has set aside about $15 million for the project but the exact amount isn’t known.