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Early Voting and Cost Pressures Cut Flagler Voting Locations By Almost Half From 2008

| May 7, 2012

There'll be a few fewer signs like these this year as early voting uproots old precincts. (© FlaglerLive)

In what could save some $312,000 in new voting equipment, Flagler County Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks submitted a plan that would almost cut in half the number of polling locations around the county—from 38 locations during the 2012 election to 22 locations for the coming August primary and November general. Locations had already been reduced by four since 2008.

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The Flagler County Commission unanimously approved the plan, including an additional $35,000 outlay to send every one of the county’s 67,000 registered voter a new voter information card detailing the changes. The drastic reduction in voting locations and precincts is the result of a combination of factors: early voting and voting by mail and absentee ballots is increasingly popular, reducing the need for as many voting locations, and government budgets remain strained, increasing the need for leaner operations.

The changes pleased commissioners, with some reservations, particularly regarding the supervisor’s finances and the closure of the Beverly Beach voting location. Weeks explained that that location was being consolidated into the location at the Flagler Beach City Hall because Beverly Beach’s numbers did not warrant a precinct of its own anymore, and that Beverly Beach residents were often in Flagler Beach, shopping and getting their mail at the post office there.

“I just find it ironical that this is older Americans month,” Beverly Beach City Commissioner Nancy Walsh told the commission, “and with the new proposal, it’s the very people that are going to be suffering this. Beverly Beach is primarily made up of the 55 and over community. Many of them are in their 70s. And this closing of the polling place will present a hardship on many of them. We don’t go to Flagler Beach for our mail. It’s delivered. So many don’t get into town. They have to depend on rides or some neighbors do their shopping, so at this time what I’d like to ask is that the commission reconsider or commissioner of elections reconsider—if not at the surfside clubhouse, I’m sure the Town Hall would open up for the voting.”

Walsh also suggested an early voting location on the beach side, an idea that Commission Chairman Barbara Revels wanted explored. The rtwop early voting locations will remain the county public library on Belle Terre Parkway and the Supervisor of Elections’ office at the Government Services Building on State Road 100. Early voting locations have to be a city hall, a supervisor of elections office or a public library. “We can’t just pick our own location,” Weeks said. “Even with having it in Flagler Beach, where it’s more populated, the numbers just weren’t there.”


Kimble Medley, an ex-supervisor of elections employee and a fierce critic of Weeks—Medley is one of four Republicans vying for the chance to challenge Weeks in November—also addressed commissioners (identifying herself as a Palm Coast registered voter rather than a candidate for the supervisor’s job): “I understand the logic behind all this and I think it’s a good idea,” Medley said. “I just want to make sure that what happened with the Palm Coast municipal elections—I understand it’s a city election and the turnout wasn’t expected to be that great—but there was confusion even with the six polling locations.”

Palm Coast  set out the parameters of its own election, reducing voting locations to six. Turnout was the lowest in the city’s history, though cause-and-effect between voting locations and turnout is a theory, not a demonstrated fact. “So the education with regards to all these changes is going to be crucial,” Medley continued, stressing early voting education.

The Florida Legislature reduced early voting days from 12 in 2008 to eight in 2012, but early voting hours will be extended from eight hours to 10 each of those weekdays (from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and early voting locations will remain open on Saturday and Sunday, from 9 to 5.

“So by starting out early voting a little later, being open later, we’re hoping we’ll get voters after work that maybe normally wouldn’t be able to vote if we closed at 4:30, so we’re hoping that will help, too,” Weeks said. “The more voters that we have that vote by mail and that vote early, the less voters we’ll have at the precincts.”

alan peterson flagler county commission

Alan Peterson (© FlaglerLive)

Commissioner Alan Peterson was concerned about the much larger size of some precincts as a result of the consolidation, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars post on Old Kings Road, where Peterson calculated that an average of three voters would be voting every minute on Election Day, likely causing traffic issues. Weeks said community policing members might help with that, as they have in the past.

No Weeks appearance before the commission is complete without questions about the supervisor’s finances. While Weeks was asking for only a $35,000 supplement to her current budget, Revels raised issue with the amount, both because Weeks had last summer submitted her current-year budget based on all the costs to be incurred by the August and November elections, and because Revels wondered what would happen if she were to be under-budget. The money would essentially pay printing and mailing charges for the new voter information cards.

“You’re asking this as a change in your budget,” Revels said, “as a request for funding for this. Is it the amount that you’re asking for to be the amount of actual cost of doing that later, or is it, you just are projecting this much?”

“That’s the estimated cost. It’s kind of in the middle of the estimated cost that we were provided,” Weeks said.

“So if it ends up costing $22,000 instead of thirty-something thousand—” Revels began.

“I don’t think they would have been that far off on their estimate,” Weeks said.

“But my point is that if there is savings to be found, if it does not cost that much, it would be reflected back in your budget?”

“Yes, you would get any unspent funds back,” Weeks said.

Commissioner Milissa Holland suggested that the supervisor partner with other governments, including uti8lity departments, the tax collector’s office and the property appraiser’s office, to use their mailings as an additional means of disseminating information. Weeks herself has been holding a series of meetings at schools with administrative staff and faculty to spread the word about the changes, and spoke of doing extensive voter-education advertising—including, at the moment, on restaurant menus.

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12 Responses for “Early Voting and Cost Pressures Cut Flagler Voting Locations By Almost Half From 2008”

  1. palmcoaster says:

    I wonder if commissioner Revels has a problem understanding simple issues. If given the tight government budgets and with the potential for our SOE Mrs Weeks, to save us maybe up to $312,000 by reducing unnecessary polling places of course the re

       0 likes

    • The Honest One Says says:

      I couldn’t agree more PalmCoaster.

      Kimberly Weeks has given back to the board nearly $100,000 since she has taken office in 2009, so Revels well knows where the money goes if it isn’t used.

      Revels, too should respect the fact that Kimberly Weeks does an outstanding job, and was recognized by the Governor for being one of the best Supervisors in the state.

      The aggressiveness witnessed today by Revels, is the same disrespect shown towards Kimberly Weeks in the past. Perhaps Barbara Revels should read Emily Post’s book of Etiquette.

         1 likes

  2. palmcoaster says:

    Sorry my comment posted prematurely and incomplete…and was supposed to go:
    required mail notification to all registered voters will have an additional cost….with an approximate total until final details on order. I find commissioners Revels questioning on the aggressive side. Was Barbara inferring that if the cost is less than the 30 something, Mrs Weeks may not refund it? Does commissioner Revels keep that type of accusatory inquiries with the other constitutional county officials? I don’t think so. Even when Mrs Weeks is saving us $$ she is being openly doubted. What about thanking Mrs Weeks for her good work instead and some more positive critique with a little more respect. What is the real reason Mrs Revels, for your anti- current SOE cruzade? Any other potential candidates up your sleeve? I voted for you maam and I can say I am deeply disturbed of my choice.

       1 likes

  3. BW says:

    This is another example of irresponsible handling of county money by Weeks. First of all, her Office is budgeted for $645k this year and is one of the only offices that got a bump up in there budget for this year. Second, she needs to come to the table with exact amounts and make that amount work. This notion that she is above everything and should have “slush funds” with no accountability needs to end. No business works that way and neither should her office. If she can come in underspent by $50,000 this past year then she has displayed that her budget is too high and the money rather than be tied up by her could be used for much more beneficial things.

    Likewise, why would you do that to the people of Flagler Beach. The Beverly Beach location should stay open. I think people need to seriously wake up to the issue that Kim Weeks is. She needs to go. We need someone in there who is open and honest about the finances and doesn’t think they are above every other government office in their accountability and their responsibility to the community and candidates.

       4 likes

  4. David says:

    I think it is time to allow voters to start voting on line. I am sure this would save plenty of time and taxpayers money. I am sure their can be a security proof software program that can be implemented to do so.

       5 likes

  5. BW says:

    @David,

    No online system has been found to be secure enough or reliable as of yet including mobile apps.

       1 likes

  6. TC says:

    Weeks has the lowest budget of all Flagler County Constitutional Officers. Weeks also has the smallest budget of any comparable FL county SOE office. Weeks does an outstanding job conducting flawless elections, and this was recognized recently by the Governor as she is the top SOE in the state. Apparently the BOC underestimated her and got egg on their face. Weeks serves us well, and she’ll have my vote in 2012.

       7 likes

  7. Robert says:

    Is there a real need for early voting?

    In the last local election only 10% of registered voters turned out in Palm Coast. However, that could be attributed to the keystone cops implementation by the city of Palm Coast.

    One polling location, the library, was deserted much of the time.

       2 likes

  8. palmcoaster says:

    @Robert. I think is required by Florida Law not by our SOE and I agree with you that was deserted the early polling place last elections.
    @BW. I helped both SOE’s as a poll worker and there is only one difference between Peggy Border and Kimberle Weeks and that is that Peggy Border had the uncontested support of the Flagler County Commission no matter what she did or ask for… why….? because in much of her tenure her husband was a seating County Commissioner John Seay (think was). So then was all in the family..!
    When Peggy decided not to continuo as SOE (then to our shock) given her integrity and skills of all those years she “unexpectedly” endorsed the current County IT Carl Laundry…former Daytona Beach NJournal writer. He lost by far to Mrs Weeks…maybe the ensuing anti SOE Weeks got its roots there? .
    I admire Mrs Weeks like I said before, for her tenacity and willpower, after working several years in our court house she was unceremoniously booted with about 20 others as soon as our current clerk of court elected took over. Then she ran for SOE, campaigning with rain, storm, scorching hot Fl sun, and even I saw her there on that PC Pky and Cypress Point corner with these killer storms lightning we endure.
    The people saw her determination and elected her. As one of these people I wish the BOCC respect our choice and stop the destructive critic even when she is trying to save us tax payers funds. How come Barbara Revels does not question the new proposal to hire now an Advertising Consultant for ED for “who knows how much” can Barbara tell us up front “for how much and what is the budget and what will she be doing if money will be short or over? . This added consultant even after contracting Elga Van Eckert at over 120,000/year and Mr Rawlings (Administrator Coffie’s friend) still on the payroll for over 65,000/year and what was achieved yet up yo 5/2012?. How many hands on that (pie) budget Commissioner Revels?
    The elections process is a very delicate and important one..and Weeks has the integrity and determination showed to do the work right! No reason for her just to have “friends in good places” but to the contrary she needs to have the trust of the people that elected her. I advise BW to enlighten himself checking Comm. B Revels ED budget and all the other constitutional officers budgets as well. You can avoid the Property Appraisers and the Tax Collector as they totally justify our tax dollars spent on them!
    Since the start, besides the SOE presented budgets, enduring unseeing unprecedented visceral autopsies by the BOCC:
    Commissioner McLaughlin goofed on his financial disclosure (just a human error anyone can make) but he wrongly blamed the SOE.
    Commissioner Peterson goofed with his campaign signature cards and also blamed the SOE.
    Now the new candidate for Sheriff goofed on his oath and also blamed the SOE?

       3 likes

  9. PJ says:

    Weeks is a poor manager, she really does not know her job. She is learning it by default. This is a no-brainer. You simply cut polling place you save money. WOW how inventive.

    Cuts are a weak managers way to improve things. The equalivant to the Hail Mary pass in football.

    real managers are people with vision that bring people together and know how to make improvements. yes this could include cuts but only after you tried all else.

    The reason for the low voter turnout is because Weeks does not do her job wel. If she had a handle on things, folks that vote would know the facts better and voters would get out to vote. There is little to no advertisements until the last minute.

    Weeks had no experience but got the vote of the people by being persistant in her campain.

    Well Ms, Weeks you knew how to work the voters when you wanted to win the election then how come the best you could do now was to cut polling places?

    The only person with common sense here in this article is Commissioner Holland who recommended partner-up with other governments, WOW how novel of an idea!

    Holland is not even the Election Supervisor but came up with a great suggestion.

    Weeks your just wasting taxper monies and your plan will be a hardship for many retired folks the majority that really do vote.

    Guess who is not voting for you, my dear!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

       4 likes

    • RD says:

      To-PJ
      FYI Weeks was recently recognized by the Governor as being ranked the top Supervisor in the state of Florida, along with 12 others. She has conducted nearly a dozen FLAWLESS elections since taking office less than 4 years ago. Apparently Weeks had a vision because she planned and prepared for this time to reduce precincts, and apparently ALL the commissioners felt she had a great plan because they all agreed and approved her plan-EVEN Commissioner Holland! The only person here with common sense is Kimberle Weeks; the one who is able to pull all this together. She worked hard to get elected and has continued to work hard since she took office. She is the best, and she has my vote in 2012.

         4 likes

  10. Think first, act second says:

    I was amused by Mrs. Weeks standing before the county commissioners stating that she had decided to reduce the number of polling locations. This was exactly Comm. Petersons suggestion at a meeting earlier this year to Mrs. Weeks. I wonder if she would have thought of this idea had it not been suggested to her by someone else.
    She is not the best and never has been and she does will not get my vote in 2012!

       0 likes

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