ballot_box.jpegMIAMI — In response to major problems that arose during the Nov. 6 general election in Florida, a coalition of voter-protection organizations has called for the urgent creation of an election reform task force.

The call came at press conferences held simultaneously Tuesday in Miami and Orlando attended by representatives of the groups that included the National Congress of Black Women, the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation and SantLa Haitian Neighborhood Center.

Other organizations at the meetings included the League of Women Voters of Florida, AARP, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Florida Institute for Reform and Education, the Lawyers Committee For Civic Rights Under Law, South Florida Jobs with Justice, Florida Votes Count, Equality Florida and the Hispanic Coalition.

The outcome of Florida’s presidential race was not known until Saturday. President Barack Obama won the state’s 29 electoral votes, taking his total to 332, to challenger Mitt Romney’s  206. Obama garnered 50 percent of the votes cast to 49.1 percent for Romney, a difference of about 74,000 votes.

Citing problems many voters experienced during early voting and on Election Day, League of Women Voters of Florida President Deirdre Macnab said, “A week ago today, Florida voters saw the culmination of a general election process that can be summarized in one word: Unacceptable.”

The task force should include people with expertise in elections and provided an “adequate budget and staff, to develop a blueprint for successful election reform.”

Voting problems cited by the coalition included:

• Cuts in early voting days and lack of standardization in early-voting for  Florida's 67 counties
• Insufficient election budgets, facilities and equipment throughout the state
• Expanded use of provisional ballots and “ill-conceived voter purges”
• A long ballot ballot “overloaded with complex, confusing amendments”
• Waiting time of up to seven hours in some places, which the coalition said, made it impossible for the elderly and the disabled, in particular, to vote
• A four-day delay in knowing the results.

Research showed the burden on minority voters was “disproportionate,” the coalition added.