Long lines and long ballots might discourage voters
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- For South Floridians, the ballot is one long read. Not only will you be voicing your choice in national, state and local races, you'll also have to sort through several proposed amendments.
Obama and Romney are not the only ones vying for your vote. "This is the longest ballot that the county has had," said Penelope Townsley.
You'll also be making choices for congress, judges, the state legislature, amendments and local positions. Broward Supervisor of Elections, Dr. Brenda Snipes said, "If a person comes in and sees the ballot for the very first time on election day, they'll probably be there about 30 or 35 minutes to vote the entire ballot."
In Broward, the ballot is eight pages long, front and back. Some Miami-Dade voters will see a whopping 12 pages.
Each voter will have to feed their completed sheets into optical scan machines one at a time. Meaning long lines are possible. "When folks get enthusiastic about an election," said Snipes, "you're going to have lines. That's just a given."
To keep things moving, fill-in your sample ballot at home and take it with you. "We recommend that voters take the time to review their sample ballot," said Townsley, "and make their choices before voting."
A large chunk of the ballot is eleven proposed constitutional amendments.
Amendment 1 would prohibit laws from forcing people to buy health care coverage. Conservatives say a "yes" vote sends a message that Floridians oppose the president's health care law. Liberals counter it's political grandstanding with the law already deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Amendments 2 and 9 would expand tax breaks to veterans and their families. Amendment 3 deals with state revenue limits. Amendment 4 could stop tax increases for homes that fall in value.
Amendment 5 would give the legislature more control over the rules regulating state courts. A "yes" vote says supporters would rein in rogue judges. Those who say, "vote 'no'" argue it's a proposed power grab by those upset with court rulings.
Amendment 6 would decide whether public money can be used to fund abortions. Amendment 8 eliminates constitutional language that prohibits religious institutions from receiving public money.
Amendment 10 is a tax break on personal property. Amendment 11 could mean a property tax break for low-income seniors, and Amendment 12 would decide on student representation to the board of governors that oversees public universities.
In addition to the state amendments, Miami-Dade voters will be asked if the county should issue $1.2 billion in bonds to finance public school renovations.
One political expert said the length and complexity of this year's ballot could lead to a drop-off in voters answering all the questions. "I think the main effect that it's going to have," said Eduardo Gamarra, "is that people are just simply going to tire and not fill out the entire ballot."
It can be confusing. If you would like to see sample ballots for your particular voting area, visit the links below.
Broward County sample ballot
Miami-Dade County sample ballot
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