Who Really Won?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Florida: Get Rid Of Election Day

Florida's election supervisors, impressed by the success of early voting, proposed dramatic reforms Tuesday that would eliminate Election Day, replace it with an 11-day election season and do away with precincts.

The association of the state's 67 chief elections officials voted in concept at its annual winter meeting in Orlando to informally present the idea to the Legislature and to start rallying support for what its members concede would be a sea change in how Floridians vote.

''I think the voters spoke loud and clear in the general election of 2004 that they want other options than to be limited to 12 hours on a Tuesday to vote,'' said Bill Cowles, Orange County supervisor of elections and president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections. ``We should seize upon the opportunity in 2005 to make the changes so we can try it in 2006.''

Florida wouldn't be the first state to move to eliminate Election Day. Voters in Oregon, for example, cast all ballots by mail.

''What we're basically telling the Legislature is the precinct system is an archaic system, which does not serve the intent of the voters very well,'' said Ion Sancho, Leon County elections supervisor. ``Requiring that you go to your precinct to vote is not unlike [Caesar] requiring everyone in the Roman Empire showing up in the town of birth so you could do a census.''