The Florida Senate is working to shorten early voting periods, but lawmakers are working on a compromise. Supervisors of elections have said that early voting has allowed them to accommodate higher turnout numbers and that the proposed changes might wind up costing taxpayers more.
The Senate’s version of a sweeping and controversial elections bill would cut early voting in half, but a compromise is in the works. The deal would add a few more days to the proposed seven and allow election officials to keep the polls open for more hours each day.
A poll by the veteran GOP pollsters at Leadership Florida suggests voters support shorter early voting periods “in order to save costs on elections.” That bit about saving costs on elections was right in the question — potentially skewing the results. Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho rejects the premise that the current proposal, or the pending compromise, would save money.
At a Thursday press conference led by the League of Women Voters, Sancho said that reducing the number of days but increasing the number of hours could require him to pay workers overtime, which would increase cost more than $100,000 in Leon County alone. Curtailing early voting would eliminate a cost-effective “pressure valve, to ensure that all citizens can get access to the vote.”
The state’s population has surged in recent decades, but the number of polling places has not, meaning that “the only way we can handle a large turnout in Florida is with a 15-day early voting period,” he said.
“The compromise, which would now say, you either shorten the number of days that you provide or blow your budget, is no compromise at all,” he said.