Lee County considering election process overhaul

Reporter: Peter Fleischer Writer: Matthew Seaver
Lee County voting site. (Credit: WINK News)

Could changes to the local election process become permanent in Lee County? After shifting their entire system following Hurricane Ian, the supervisor of elections says voting protocols could get an overhaul.

With just weeks to set up a new system and inform voters about the changes, Lee County Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle is happy with voter turnout at 53% and the time it took to tally those votes.

“A lot of people showed up on election day. But it was good! People were very appreciative. I was glad to see the lines, and everybody got to put their vote in,” said Doyle.

He also believes the system could be improved upon, “We need more sites. 12 is not enough.”

The county’s biggest problem was tracking data in real time. The real-time vote data wasn’t rebuilt to align with the voting location method, making it nearly impossible for voters to follow races as the night wore on.

It also created challenges for poll workers to know exactly how many votes were in and how many were still pending.

Doyle believes with time to rebuild a new permanent system; the tracking issues would be solved. “As time goes on and once you start it, I think down the road it gets better and better.”

The overhaul to the Lee County system was only possible across the last month because Governor Ron DeSantis signed an emergency order after Hurricane Ian.

Permanent changes would require a vote at the state level.

“We’d have to rely on the legislature. They make the laws, and everything we do is codified in law,” Doyle said.

Dyle believes with real-time results and preparation, Lee County can use lessons from Hurricane Ian to make improvements.

“It would benefit the voters. It would benefit the whole election process. Because then you can go anywhere to vote,” said Doyle.

Doyle expects Lee County to go back to the 99 precincts system for the 2024 election, but in a couple of years, Southwest Floridians could see legislation changing how they vote.

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