Published 6:13 am Wednesday, December 18, 2002
County should extend poll hours
At last week's Escambia County Commission meeting, a local citizen addressed the members regarding extending polling hours at all county voting places. Most likely, he is not the only person to consider this, especially when many neighboring counties already are open additional hours.
At one point in the past, the current polling hours of 8 a.m to 6 p.m. were probably accommodating. However, today, when long commutes to and from work are common, voters need more access. In some cases, these people have to decide between voting and working.
Some may argue that these out-of-town workers have the right to file an absentee ballot. While that is an option, our government should make it as easy as possible for citizens to cast their vote on election day.
Several commissioners appeared open to the idea of extending the hours, but agreed that they should consult the probate office, circuit clerk, sheriff and poll worker representatives before they make a decision. It is only right to consult these groups prior to making the decision, but in the end the commission stands alone as the decision maker. They will have to make a choice regarding what is fair … not for pollworkers and government agencies, but for the county voters.
In our view, extending voting hours will provide more citizens an opportunity to be heard on election day. The large number of people who commute to Mobile, Pensacola and other places out of the county for their livelihood makes this a fairly easy decision. Other counties are offering this opportunity to voters and we should follow suit here in Escambia.