TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Voter advocacy groups are really upset over last week's election mess and now they're calling on Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers to make sure it never happens again.
A dozen groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida and AARP, call the election an embarrassing disaster.
They say long lines with waits of more than six hours, the lengthy ballot, fewer early voting days and extended vote counting was unacceptable and unnecessary.
Florida did not report voting results until four days after the election.
The groups want Gov. Scott and the Legislature to act immediately to appoint a nonpartisan task force on election reform.
Leslie Spencer of AARP Florida says elected leaders have a duty to make sure the election process is easy and accessible.
"We saw problems especially with seniors being asked to stand in line for four to six hours at a time and that's extremely difficult for older folks. But this isn't just a senior issue. It's for allowing access to vote for people of all generations and all ages."
Marilynn Wills of the League of Women Voters of Florida says research shows minority voters are more likely to vote early so they are at greater risk of being disenfranchised by the state's reduction of early voting days. State lawmakers passed a law in 2011, and Gov. Rick Scott signed it, cutting back the number of early voting days from 14 to 8.
She calls the new law a solution looking for a problem, especially after Florida's former Secretary of State Kurt Browning praised early voting for helping create a smooth presidential election in 2008.
"After 2008, Secretary of State Browning spoke before the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and told them the election had been wonderful and it was mostly due to early voting. Then in 2011 we get a bill that reduces the number of early voting days from 14 to 8."
The voter advocacy groups hope an election task force will develop recommendations by next February so state lawmakers can study the ideas when the 2013 legislative session starts in March.
Leslie Spencer hopes Gov. Scott and lawmakers take the issue seriously.
"We're hoping that our elected officials take a really hard look at what happened last week and do some things to address that situation. Going down from a 14 to an eight-day early voting period, looking at the complexity and the length of the ballot that we had in place, all contributed to the problems that we saw last week. So they really need to address those problems and look at how that impacts voters of all ages."
First Coast News