Florida Governor Issues Executive Order Expanding Early Voting

NBC’s Tim Russert explains the problem on election night, 2000

Florida is trying, we really are. Even Republican Gov. Charlie Crist seems determined not to be blamed for any problems with say, national elections, this year. The governor has bowed to extreme demand and issued an edict that early voting sites will stay open longer.

Unfortunately, he didn’t order any extra sites opened.

The Republican governor’s executive order extends hours at all 267 early voting sites for four hours each weekday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday, and for four hours on the weekend, for a total of 12 hours over Saturday and/or Sunday…

Crist: “Watching news accounts of the long lines gave me concern for the health, safety and welfare of my fellow Floridians”

“Frankly, watching news accounts of the long lines gave me concern for the health, safety and welfare of my fellow Floridians, particularly, perhaps, senior citizens,” Crist said.

County supervisors of elections express mixed feelings about the order. Those who have their acts together, like mine, welcome the opportunity to make election day that much smoother. Those who were a mess to begin with regard increased enfranchisement as a big ol’ pain in the butt.

As of close of voting sites yesterday, one-fifth of Florida’s registered voters had already cast a ballot.

That’s an amazing figure, since we are talking about the percentage of all who could potentially vote, not of all who will. If turn-out is in line with historic levels, and if early voting continues at this pace, we should be halfway done by election day. In 2000, 70 percent of registered voters showed up; in 2004, 74 percent did.

Democrats have an advantage among voters who can walk and are physically present.

The state Democratic Party said Tuesday that 53 percent of the nearly 1.2 million early voters were Democrats compared to 30 percent who were Republicans.

Republicans claim an edge among those who cast absentee ballots, usually either because they are in nursing homes or out of the country.

Of the 1.1 million absentee ballots returned so far, Republicans have a 49 percent to 35 percent advantage over Democrats, the party said.

Splitting the difference gives Democrats a 44—39 percent lead so far.

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