JACKSONVILLE - Gov. Jeb Bush's choice for interim elections supervisor in Duval County hit the ground running Tuesday, designating four new early voting sites for the county's 500,000 registered voters.
Bush named William E. Scheu, a real estate lawyer, to replace John Stafford, who resigned in ill health Monday.
After an afternoon meeting, Scheu's office said early voting sites would open Saturday at four regional libraries across Jacksonville, including one on the city's northwest side, a predominantly black area.
The county's elections office has been heavily criticized by blacks for its handling of the 2000 presidential election, where 27,000 ballots were mismarked and thrown out because of misleading instructions, and for opening only one early polling station - the legally required site at the elections office downtown - for the Nov. 2 election.
At a noon introductory news conference, Scheu (pronounced Shy) said opening more early voting sites was a priority with Bush, Mayor John Peyton and Secretary of State Glenda Hood.
The single site downtown had attracted about 1,500 voters by midday.
Clyde Collins, chairman of the Duval County Democratic Party, called Scheu a good choice to run the election.
"He has a reputation of being honest and is a man of integrity," Collins said. "It's a big challenge, but I think he'll do a good job."
Campaign finance records show Scheu has been a supporter of Republican candidates, giving $2,000 to U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw; $3,000 to former U.S. Rep. Tillie Fowler; $500 to former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack; and $1,000 to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina.
Scheu, who said he will not be a candidate for the job permanently, will serve until the City Council calls a special election to fill Stafford's term, which expires in 2007.