Longest ballot in Pinellas history could cause epic lines on election day

Leave 25 minutes just to read the amendments

LARGO, Fla. - Unless you're planning on bringing your own contract lawyer into the voting booth with you on election day, you should strongly consider voting by mail.

Ballots at Tampa Bay area voting precincts will be four to six pages long, with lots of technical fine print. It could take you 25 minutes just to read the proposed amendments to the State constitution, and that has election officials worried about epic lines on November 6.

"This is the longest ballot in Pinellas County history," says Pinellas elections supervisor Deborah Clark.

More than 258,000 ballots were mailed out to Pinellas voters Tuesday, who will have plenty of time to make their choices before election day.   

Poll workers in training around the state are gearing up for a possible electoral gridlock as voters struggle in the booth with legalize as dense any bank loan document.

"This requires more reading than most college courses," said Clark.
 
When amendments are put forth by citizens, the summary must be 75 words or less.  But all eleven issues on this year's ballot were put forth by lawmakers in Tallahassee who, in their wisdom, exempted themselves from the word limit that applies to the rest of us.

"On the ballot in November, one of the questions is almost 700 words.  The second-longest question is almost 500 words long," said Clark.

Republican State Senator Mike Fasano agrees that the ballot is too wordy. And though he supports some of the amendments having to do with property tax reduction, he believes his colleagues in Tallahassee went overboard this year.

"If we're going to propose constitutional amendments, let's not throw them all out there in one election year. We have an election every two years, so let's divide them up," said Fasano.

The postage for these oversized ballots will cost more than a standard letter, but some counties, like Hillsborough, will send you a ballot with the postage pre-paid. 

Otherwise all counties have a dozen or so drop-off points where you can deliver your ballot without paying or waiting.  Just call or go to the supervisor of elections website for your county.

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