Early voting becomes an issue

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

At a time of budgetary belt-tightening, it's worth asking whether state law should force counties to stage early voting for primary elections.

Early voting sites drew few voters prior to Tuesday's primary. Right before the deadline, Broward statistics showed roughly 6 percent of the electorate used early voting conveniences. Just 11,000 or so voters opted for early voting in Palm Beach County.

Offering early voting cost $200,000 in Broward County. That money can be better spent elsewhere.

Primary day drew a dismal turnout, even with some heated contests. It's hard to see how redirecting thousands of people who voted early to the polls on Election Day would have overwhelmed elections officials and poll workers, and it's hard to justify the expense.

That's not the case for the general election. Come November, voting lines should be long as voters decide the presidential election, congressional races, statehouse seats, municipal government contests and even a slew of state constitutional amendments.

So, early voting prior to Nov. 7 will decrease lines at the polls on Election Day, and help iron out glitches ahead of the crush of voters. It's justifiable.

Primaries are different. There are seldom lines.

Sure, early voting is a convenience for elderly voters. But they can vote ahead of time and avoid the rush through the absentee ballot system.

Local elections offices would do better if they were spared having to hold early voting in the primaries, and earmark the savings to more important tasks, from voter awareness efforts to other election needs.

BOTTOM LINE: Save for other tasks

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