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M-D Election Advisory Group Meeting To Analyze Election Problems

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Election Task Force

Miami-Dade County Election advisory board meets for first time on 11/28/12 (Source: David Sutta/CBS4)

David-Sutta-600x450 David Sutta
David Sutta joined the CBS4 news team in April of 2007. As S...
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campaign 2012 new2 M D Election Advisory Group Meeting To Analyze Election Problems

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Three weeks after the fiasco that was Florida’s election, a Miami-Dade task force met to prevent it from happening again.

The group sat in a training room at the county’s election headquarters Wednesday as Miami’s Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who created the task force, told the room, “Maybe this one size fits all for elections doesn’t really work.”

The task force is made up of county commissioners, legal experts, and community activists. They are tasked with not only finding out why people waited eight hours in line or why it took three days to count all the votes, but how to prevent it from happening again.

Community activist Lovette McGill noted much of the problems stemmed from the Republican led legislature.

“Everybody is skirting around the one thing that’s got this place on fire,” McGill said. “The state of Florida suppressed the vote. Period.”

For the first time, Miami-Dade’s Supervisor of Elections revealed problems started roughly eight weeks before the election when they got the official ballot.

“We quickly realized the current system that we were managing; we did not have the capacity to handle a ballot of that size,” Supervisor Penelope Townsley said.

The machines could only do four pages not the record 12. Suddenly, they were buying new machines and modifying old ones. Even envelopes needed to be redesigned to fit the ballots.

Then when it came time to count the record number of absentee ballots 150 temporary employees were hired. Elections staff was surprised when just 60 employees showed up, and as the counts wore on, some more just stopped showing up for the temporary gig that had an overwhelming workload.

When asked if she could do it all over again would she have done something different Townsley said, “Tell me who hasn’t done that. Hindsight is always 20/20.”

While most in the room shifted much of the blame to state lawmakers, Miami-Dade’s leadership maintains they will clean it up.

“It is responsibility Miami-Dade has,” Commissioner Sally Heyman said.

The task force is already full of ideas including more early voting locations to re-balancing out the polling sites.

“For a precinct that has 4,000 people, don’t stack it up with two, three other precinct in the same place but doesn’t have but 12 parking spaces,” Heyman said. “That occurred in one site in Northeast Dade.”

This task force is going to meet two more times in December and another time in January. The goal is to come up with some sort of plan before the Florida legislature meets early next year.

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