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Should state investigate Lee County voter problems?

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Should state investigate Lee County voter problems?

By Matt Grant. CREATED Nov 8, 2012

FORT MYERS - A non-partisan voting group is considering calling on the state to investigate Tuesday's voting problems in Lee County.

"Moving forward," a teary Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said Wednesday, "I will do whatever it takes to make sure this does not happen again in Lee County."

A day after Harrington's tearful apology, the League of Women Voters of Lee County is considering calling for a state investigation.

"I think there should be an investigation," said Judy Alves, who is on the League's board of directors but does not speak for the group as a whole. "I think the excuses that were offered were certainly invalid."

Alves' biggest complaint is that only one ballot scanner was used at some precincts where lines stretched for hours.

"It's a very simple mathematical equation," said Alves. "You cannot use one scanner when you have hoards of people trying to vote...clearly it was a mistake."

A mistake she feels turned some voters, who did not want to wait in line for hours, away. Alves did not call for Harrington to resign.

"It would have been nice to send additional units to every single precinct," said Harrington. "But we didn't have any more in stock."

Harrington blames election problems on a long four-page ballot and too few scanners.

Fox 4 asked the Florida Department of State if they plan to investigate.

"It may be too soon to make that decision right now," said Florida Department of State spokesman Chris Cate. "I think right now we want to get as much information as possible and do an evaluation...There may be some counties that need to have a closer look."

The state has received complaints about long lines in Lee County, which concerns them, according to Cate, who says they will evaluate how the elections went statewide.

From there, recommendations will be made for ways to improve.

"Lee County will have some lessons that they can learn," said Cate, "and take from this election."

State Rep. Matt Caldwell (R-Lehigh Acres) called the five hour wait times "unacceptable" and says voters will have the final say on Harrington's performance when she's up for re-election.

Caldwell does not support the legislature getting involved in an investigation because he says there needs to be a "suspicion of criminal activity" which there isn't here.

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com