Are Bay area voters being slighted by no early-voting extension?

6:20 PM, Nov 5, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Is one group or political party getting disproportionately harmed by not having more days to vote early this election year?

At the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office, thousands of voters found a way to get around Governor Rick Scott's decision not to extend early voting by showing their ID, requesting an absentee ballot, and in many cases, filled them out on the spot before handing them in.

Still, thousands more who didn't get a chance to vote this year without that early voting extension may, as a result,  not vote at all.

Having missed the voting deadline in elections past, Larry Taylor said  he'd wait in line Monday as long as he could to get his ballot. But like others, Taylor had his limits.

"Well if it's going to be 15 or 20 minutes I can wait," Taylor said looking at the line, "If it's like an hour or two hours, I can't."

That's what worries people who question why Florida would not extend early voting to accommodate people like Taylor, whose jobs, or lives may not allow them the time to wait in long lines.

10 News political expert Seth McKee, A USF Political Science professor, says historically speaking, Democrats would be disproportionately hurt by fewer days of early voting.

But this time around, McKee also says undecided voters might also see those longer lines and say "Forget it."

"Some of those people might be more likely to vote Romney if they're politically independent," said McKee.

Elections offices in several counties were getting around the non-extension Monday by providing the absentee ballots which some voters filled in on the spot, then returning them to a drop-off box.

It was kind of like early voting.

"But no, it is not early voting," said Hillsborough Elections Office spokesman Travis Abercrombie, "But it is a way of voting early."

The option was a big relief for Holly Cobina, who'd recently busted her knee. The on-site absentee ballot made voting not only possible, but a little less painful, she said.

"They took me right in, because of the condition I was in. But the line was long, even before we tried to make this happen."

Still, if mail-in voting, early voting, even on-site absentee voting hasn't provided enough opportunity, there is always plain old Election Day -- Tuesday -- which as long-time voters reminded us, used to be the only day for most of us to vote.

Sarah Baker, voting for more than 30 years says there's simply no excuse to have not gotten it done... with or without an extension of early voting.

"The only time there was an absentee ballot was if you were military voting overseas. If you wanted to vote, go out and vote on election day. No ands, ifs, or buts," said Baker. 

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