LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County will have to come up with $3.6 million to buy more scanning machines and new technology, to prevent super-long lines at polling places in future elections. Thousands of Lee voters waited several hours in line to vote last November.
"I am very passionate that future election experiences will be much better than what occured in the last election in Lee County. That is our goal," said Sharon Harrington, supervisor of elections in Lee.
She is telling commissioners, she needs more than 100 ballot-scanning machines, plus other types of technologies to speed up the flow of voters at the polling places. She has decided not to ask for more than the current 125 precincts, because that would add to the costs.
"I hope to have most of the new equipment in place for 2014, and definitely all of it by the presidential election in 2016," said Harrington. She also said she will ask for an increase in her annual operating budget -- from 6.2 million dollars to 6.4.
Lee County is facing a $30 million budget shortfall, but one commissioner said it may be hard to cut back on what Harrington wants.
"We cannot have another election like the last one ever again. So, we may have to find the money somewhere. We may have no choice, but to just do it," says commissioner Larry Kiker.
Lee Sheriff Mike Scott said it is "very likely" he will ask for more money than last year's $137 milion operating budget. He said he wants to give salary increases to employees, and also may ask for about $1.5 million to put a deputy in every school in the county. Scott said his final budget request is not ready for release quite yet.