PBC open for voting, FL Dems file lawsuit over early votingby Dara Kam | November 4th, 2012
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher is allowing voters to cast absentee ballots in person today and tomorrow although the early voting period ended yesterday.
And Florida Democrats have filed a federal lawsuit against Bucher, Miami-Dade County and Broward County elections supervisors and Secretary of State Ken Detzner. The lawsuit asks a judge force the three county supervisors to allow absentee voting in person until Tuesday’s election because of long lines.
Bucher said she was aware of the lawsuit and is keeping her offices open today and tomorrow to allow voters to request and cast absentee ballots at the counter. She said the main office will be open today until 5 p.m. and tomorrow from 7 a.m to 7 p.m.
“Our last early voter voted at 2:30 in the morning and people were waiting outside the office when I got there at 7:30 this morning,” Bucher said this morning. “The voters deserve to vote and since we have the ability to allow them to vote an absentee ballot at the counter, I think that’s the right thing to do.”
Voting by absentee ballot at the counter until Election Day is permissible under Florida law.
“Voting with an absentee ballot began weeks before ‘early voting’ and will continue until 7pm Tues. MiamiDade isn’t unique or outside the law,” Detzner’s spokesman Chris Cate said in a Twitter message in response to a flurry of traffic about the early voting situation in Florida.
The Florida Democratic Party filed the lawsuit against Detzner and the supervisors in federal court in Miami seeking an emergency injunction to force Bucher, Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes and Miami-Dade County elections supervisor Penelope Townsley to accept the absentee ballots and let voters know their offices are open.
Voters in the three counties have had to wait up to seven hours to cast their ballots, lawyers for the FDP wrote in the lawsuit.
“The extensive lines are the result of polling facilities that are inadequate to meet the needs of Florida electors during the early voting period,” the lawsuit alleges.
Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer asked Detzner to extend early voting to accommodate the lines of people waiting for ballots, but Detzner said that would require a state of emergency.
“Fortunately, no such situation currently exists in the state of Florida,” Detzner wrote in an e-mail to Sawyer yesterday.
The demand for early voting – shrunk from 14 to eight days in an election overhaul passed by lawmakers last year – has created a chaotic situation in Florida. Some supervisors kept their offices open beyond the early voting period but are only accepting provisional ballots. Bucher and Townsley are allowing voters to request early ballots at the counter, but Snipes is only accepting absentee ballots already requested, according to news reports.