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Budget Cuts Hit Miami-Dade Elections Department

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Election Day
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campaign 2012 new2 Budget Cuts Hit Miami Dade Elections Department

MIAMI (CBS4) – A decade ago Miami-Dade was embroiled in the politics of computerized voting and scandal within the election department.

Cleaned up and using brand new optical machines since 2008, the department has been humming.  That is until this week, when Miami-Dade rolled out it’s new budget.

The elections department lost 15 percent of it’s income which means less poll workers, less training for employees, and those sample ballots that arrived in your mailbox just before election day will now only appear in the paper.

“The problem with getting the sample ballot only from the newspaper is not everyone gets the newspaper.” Lida Rodriguez-Taseff of Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition responded when she heard the news.

Roughly 12% of Miami-Dade residents get the Miami Herald or El Nuevo Herald, according to numbers provided by the newspaper.

The number is disappointing to Rodriguez-Taseff.

“Some of these measures will have the greatest impact on the people who most deserve representation which is poor people, the elderly, people who are dependent on social services.” she said.

Not everyone agrees though. “If you are going to cut I’d rather you start with the sample ballot than cut poll workers or less training.” University of Miami Political Science professor Chris Mann told CBS4.

He thinks a lack of poll workers will have even more impact.

“That’s going to be where voters experience it.  Poll workers who are not well trained make mistakes.”

The mistakes could affect results in a close race.  So what is the solution in tough economic times?  Some are suggesting fewer elections.

Rodriguez explained “If cities and municipalities combine elections then we don’t have to be running 20 elections.  And in fact I did the numbers a year or two ago and it was like 46 elections in one year.  That’s insane.”

One could argue though that the budget cuts are needed.

In 10 years, the population of Miami-Dade county has grown roughly 10% while the elections budget has nearly quadrupled from $7 million to $26 million.

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