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Election 2004

TV spots, ads aim to lessen voter confusion

By JENNIFER LIBERTO, Times Staff Writer
Published February 12, 2004

TALLAHASSEE - Florida already has spent millions of dollars to upgrade voting machines and restore voter confidence in an election system tarnished by the 2000 debacle.

But it appears that's not enough, so state elections officials plan to go after voters in their own living rooms and have hired two public relations firms to run the show.

Florida elections supervisors and Secretary of State Glenda Hood on Wednesday announced a plan to educate voters through television spots and other advertising.

"This campaign is going to restore the confidence that voters have in Florida's elections, in our processes and in our voting technologies," Hood said. "Florida voters can be assured that the changes that we've made over the past few years at both the state and the county levels represent a profound improvement in our voting systems and in our voting procedures."

The state will spend $150,000 in federal voter education money to hire a bipartisan pair of former gubernatorial spokesmen: Ron Sachs Communications, whose namesake used to work for Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, and Core Message Inc., whose president, Cory Tilley, worked for Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.

The firms have produced eight, 30-second TV public service announcements, four each in English and Spanish, that will air throughout the state.

The spots do not educate voters about new touch screen voting machines, which are used in 15 Florida counties, replacing punch card machines and the infamous hanging chads.

The spots urge people to consider voting early or by absentee ballot to avoid long lines on election day, which is March 9 for the primary and Nov. 2 for the general election. They also advise voters to locate their polling place, watch for sample ballots in newspapers and the mail and study the candidates and issues.

The supervisors also are considering producing a 30-minute TV spot that would more thoroughly review voting procedures and options in Florida.

Several supervisors of elections came to Tallahassee to join in the announcement, including Kurt Browning of Pasco County and Susan Gill of Citrus County.

[Last modified February 12, 2004, 01:00:30]

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