JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- All eyes are on Florida, after an election that seems to have no end in the Sunshine State. Even President Obama mentioned long lines in his acceptance speech Tuesday, saying "we need to fix that."
Duval County voters totalled 150,000 on Election Day, and waited up to six hours to cast their ballots. Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland tells Action News there is a plan to keep that from happening again, but it comes at a price.
Right now, voters line up by their last name and sign in on paper, but Holland says new electronic machines, called EVIDs, could register 60 people an hour in any order. The machines cost $3,000 a piece, and are used at all 17 early voting sites, but to implement them at all 197 precincts, the cost will be $2.1 million.
For the past four years, Holland has requested the city include the technology in the general fund budget, but each year it has been cut.
"There is savings in doing it, but it takes about six years to recoup those savings. It's easy to push it off in a non-election year, but the problem gets bigger in every Presidential election."
City Councilman John Crescimbeni says it's worth considering, given all the issues this election cycle, but first, he wants to be sure all 2,200 poll workers are being efficient.
"I would first encourage Mr. Holland to cross-train the people which wouldn't cost anything except for the training."
Crescimbeni waited 35 minutes to vote at his precinct Tuesday, and he believes the problem was a check-in. After timing how long it took each person to register, he became frustrated that only two of the seven poll workers on hand were checking voters in.
Holland tells Action News each poll position is trained separately, and argues the EVID system could help consolidate responsibilites, while improving accuracy and reducing the wait. It's a system he hopes the city will consider before the gubernatorial race in 2014.
Mayor Alvin Brown's office tells Action News he supports finding a way to make the voting process more efficient, but hopes to find lower-cost ways to accomplish that goal.
"The Mayor certainly supports the goal of helping citizens exercise their right to vote in the most efficient way possible. But $2.1 million is a very large amount of taxpayer money in a challenging fiscal period for the city of Jacksonville. In this year's budget, the city had to lay off or demote nearly 250 employees and make cuts to city services. Next year's budget could be even more challenging with the continuing increase in pension costs. Mayor Brown looks forward to discussing this issue with Supervisor Holland in hopes that they can find lower cost ways to accomplish the goal of helping citizens vote."