Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson, a Republican elected in 2012, plans to shut down several voting locations throughout Hernando County. But also has plans to double the number of early voting sites.
In an email interview on Friday, Anderson said, “I have plans for four early vote sites, one of those will be at the SOE office in Spring Hill, another at the Library on Spring Hill Dr. The East Side Library will serve as an early vote site, and the proposed Brooksville early vote site is at the South Brooksville Community Center. This will cut travel times down for most residents in Hernando County.”
While it may take less time for some residents to get to a polling place, there will still be fewer places to vote overall. The two additional early voting locations do not make up for the number being closed.
However, Anderson is hopeful that the new plan will make voting more accessible and combat the issues that plagued the last election season.
During the 2012 elections, the wait to vote in some Florida locations was more than 7 hours.
In Hernando County, residents stood on line at the Forest Oaks early voting site for 3 or more hours to cast their ballots.
The 2012 voting fiasco was largely attributed to Gov. Rick Scott. Confusion over voter ID laws and Scott’s decision to cut early voting days from 14 to 8, including the elimination of Sunday voting before Election Day, did result in more eligible voters being shut out of the voting process.
A report in the Orlando Sentinel showed that during the 2012 elections, more than 200,000 Floridians ended up not voting because of long lines.
Anderson said she is not concerned about being accused of partisan voter suppression. “Anyone can make accusations. The facts will speak for themselves. I am making early voting more accessible for the residents in Brooksville, as well as all residents in Hernando County. They will no longer have to park, go up a hill, through security to vote. They will have eight days of early voting for the 2014 Primary and General elections at four locations.”
The overall effect of Anderson’s efforts is yet to be seen. For some residents, voting might be easier. For others, determination and standing in long lines could still be the only way they can participate in our democracy.
For more information on voting in Hernando County, visit the Supervisor of Elections at http://www.hernandovotes.com/