barack-obama_web.jpgTALLAHASSEE (AP) – Barack Obama's campaign manager said last week during a visit to Florida that a team of lawyers will be in place ahead of November's election to make sure there are no glitches that keep people from voting in areas where higher turnout is expected.

Florida became a poster child for dysfunctional elections when it took five weeks to determine a winner in the 2000 presidential election. But David Plouffe said part of the campaign's strategy will be to make sure voting problems are avoided.

“We're going to make sure that we have a sense of how many people we think are going to turn out and some assessment of whether the current plans can handle that,” he said. “Whether you win or lose an election, it's not OK to have people turned away because they have to wait in line for three or four hours because of a lack of equipment and a lack of planning.”

Many Democrats believe the 2000 election, which President Bush won by 537 votes, would have turned out differently if not for problems in Florida. Many of the reported problems were in largely black precincts, including machine malfunctions, higher levels of discarded ballots, poorly trained poll workers and overcrowded polling places.

“What we'd like is that there is equity, so that when people go to vote, there can be a line but there needs to be a reasonable line,” Plouffe told a group of reporters. “We saw in 2000 and 2004 there were some problems. We are expecting bigger turnout in certain areas – college campuses, suburban areas even, African-American areas, Hispanic areas.”

He said they're looking at specific areas in Florida and elsewhere to make sure there are enough voting machines and workers to handle a larger turnout. Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee to face John McCain, the Republican nominee in waiting.

“The McCain campaign likes to talk about country first. Well an important part of our country is allowing everybody who wants to participate a right to vote,” Plouffe said. “We don't want there to be any barrier to participation, nor should anyone in the country, by the way, Republican or Democrat.”

Asked about Plouffe's statements, Republican Gov. Charlie Crist said, “I think we're going to have a great election. I really do.”

He pointed out that he was able to change Florida law to make sure there is a paper trail for every ballot cast.

“I think that should give everybody the opportunity to be able to take a breath and have confidence in our elections in Florida,” said Crist.

Photo: Barack Obama