Uneven distribution of voting precincts resulted in voters waiting in line for hours in the 2012 Election; Inaction by county officials could result in repeat of “nationwide embarrassment” for Miami-Dade

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, (786) 363 – 2737 media@aclufl.org

MIAMI – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida called on Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to take immediate action to implement a re-precincting plan that would prevent long lines at the polls. In a letter sent today, ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon and ACLU of Florida Miami Chapter President Jeff Borg urged the mayor to authorize Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley to begin the re-precincting process immediately.

In the 2012 election, voters in some parts of Miami-Dade had to wait in line for up to seven hours to cast their ballots because of the uneven distribution of voters across Miami-Dade’s voting precincts. Many voters had to leave before being able to vote. Additionally, because of the delays, election results from Florida were not known until long after the polls had closed on Election Day. The image of voters waiting in very long lines was cited by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration as the thing that “spurred the call for reform that led to the creation of [the] Commission.”

On Thursday, January 30th, 2014, Mayor Gimenez and stated that he had decided to push back re-precincting until after the Fall 2014 elections. Shortly afterward, Mayor Gimenez, seeming to have reconsidered, stated that he intended to take the issue to the County Commission at the upcoming February 19th meeting. The letter sent by the ACLU of Florida today calls on the mayor not to delay any further by waiting for action by the commissioners.
From the letter:

“The facts are clear: unbalanced distribution of voting precincts resulted in the long lines that became a national symbol of election mismanagement.

“Unfortunately, the fact that the re-precincting process already has been unnecessarily delayed means that county election administrators will have to work even harder and faster to implement a new plan before the midterm election. However, election administrators exist to ensure that one’s voice is heard in our democratic process, and working to reduce long lines and to properly train poll workers are important steps in protecting the voting rights of the citizens of Miami-Dade County. Indeed, given the volume of evidence that re-precincting would make our elections fairer and make it easier for people to cast their ballots, inaction on this matter could result in voters in some precincts being treated unequally as compared to voters in less-populous precincts, potentially leaving the county open to civil rights litigation.

"We therefore ask you to use the authority of your office to instruct election administrators to immediately implement a re-precincting plan for the benefit of the voters of Miami-Dade County in time for the November 2014 General Election.”

A copy of the letter is available here: http://aclufl.org/resources/letter-to-miami-dade-mayor-gimenez-re-precincting/