New Manatee elections chief Mike Bennett calls for voting changes

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 19, 2012 

MANATEE -- Manatee’s newly-elected supervisor of elections on Wednesday called for more early voting days and more flexibility in setting up early voting sites.

Mike Bennett, who is slated to be sworn in next month as the county’s new supervisor of elections, echoed remarks made to CNN earlier in the day by Florida Gov. Rick Scott on how to fix the state’s embarrassing election day meltdown.

During the Nov. 6 general election, voters in some counties waited up to six hours to cast their ballots.

Bennett said he would like to see the number of early voting days restored from eight to 14, and more flexibility given to local officials in choosing early voting sites.

Bennett also advocated new voter registration cards for all Florida citizens, paid for by the state.

“I hope to be actively involved through the Association of the Supervisors of Elections to cure some problems,” said Bennett, who as a state senator voted for the 2011 law that cut back the number of early voting days for the 2012 election cycle.

In an interview with CNN host Soledad O’Brien, Scott noted that Secretary of State Ken Detzner is working with the state’s supervisors of election to create legislation to improve the process.

“We’ve got to go back and look at the number of days of early voting that we have,” the governor said.

O’Brien asked Scott if he accepted any blame for the elections issues after refusing to extend early voting hours. He said he was simply complying with the laws in place, especially the elections changes approved by the Florida Legislature in 2011.

The Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau contributed to this report.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.

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