Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vote Early — and Longer

From the Miami Herald:

Declaring a state of emergency in Florida because of long voting lines, Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday extended early voting hours across the state to 12 hours a day.

The executive order comes after record early voting turnout has contributed to long lines at polling sites.

Current Florida law allows for early voting to be conducted eight hours a day each weekday and for a total of eight hours during the weekends. With Crist’s order, early voting sites will be open the rest of this week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. They will be open a total of 12 hours on Saturday and Sunday, the last day of early voting.

”It’s not a political decision,” Crist said moments after signing the order. ”It’s a people decision.”

Crist said he made the decision after seeing numerous news reports about long lines and after he had a conversation with state House Democratic leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach. Crist’s appointed secretary of state, Kurt Browning, had rejected the idea of extending the early voting hours earlier this week.

The precedent for extending voting hours came in 2002, when then-Gov. Jeb Bush agreed to longer polling hours during the September primary when it was the first time many counties were using electronic voting machines and Miami-Dade and Broward were delayed in opening their polling sites.

Crist’s decision elicited grumbling from fellow Republicans concerned about high Democratic turnout, but Gelber said the current situation necessitated an executive order.

”I think it’s exactly the right thing to do, and I give the governor credit for doing it,” Gelber said.

Yes, and if my experience last weekend is any guide, it’s necessary.

The grumbling Republicans are pretty sure that this will hand the state to the Democrats. Isn’t that like saying that the more people vote, the more they vote for Democrats? Well, no wonder they don’t like it.