Long Ballots Long Lines in Florida

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10-30-12

272 words in the Gettysburg Address.

1,337 words in the Declaration of Independence.

1,364 words in President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address.

Nearly 4,000 words on Duval and Clay County, Florida’s November 6 ballots.

And it’s not just in these two counties. Across the Sunshine State, voters will face lengthy ballots when they go the polls next week.

Why?

There are 11 state constitutional amendments, totaling more than 2,600 words, to consider, which the Florida Times Union estimated take almost 13 minutes to read. And this does not even factor in how long it will take to vote on national, state, and local races.

Additionally, reading these amendments is no easy task.

"To understand these full-text amendments, you almost have to be a Harvard lawyer," Sharon Harrington, Lee County’s elections supervisor told the Tampa Bay Times.

Duval County supervisor Jerry Holland said it took one voter 45 minutes to complete the ballot in person at the elections office. But, Holland is not just concerned about the time it takes to read the ballots; it will also take voters more time to feed the two-page paper ballot into the optical scanner for processing and counting.

Of course, many people will not take this long to read the ballot and may not read or vote the whole ballot, but Holland and other supervisors are concerned the ballot length could lead to long lines come November 6.

To avoid possible lines, the supervisors have been encouraging people to vote by mail.

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