SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – As more people move to Seminole County and register to become voters, the elections supervisor said the current facility is too small and they need more space.
Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson said it’s a case of growing pains.
“We’re maxed out,” Anderson said.
Every available space is being used inside the elections building. Election supplies are stacked from the floor to the ceiling, boxes of records are piled high, staff set up makeshift work stations inside storage rooms and a conference space is used for election worker training as well as the canvassing board room.
“We do not have the space that we need today and for the future of elections in Seminole County,” Anderson said.
Anderson said that’s because Seminole County is seeing massive growth and it is not slowing down. He said between 2018 and 2020, they added almost 30,000 voters to the voting roll.
“As we see this growing trend happening, we want to be able to keep up with it,” Anderson said.
But Anderson said that is hard to do in the space they are currently in. For the past two decades, the elections office has leased an 18,000 square foot building from the Orlando Sanford International Airport for $15,643 a month.
Anderson said he plans on going to county leaders to ask for a new building because they have outgrown the facility.
Since October 2020, his staff started researching options, including building a new facility or leasing another building. He also had a needs assessment done to determine how much space they should be working in.
Anderson said the needs assessment showed the elections office should currently be in a 38,000 square foot building.
“It says in 10 years, we need to be in a 45,000 square foot building and in 20 years, it suggests we be in a 52,000 square foot building,” Anderson said. “We have to plan for the future.”
The Seminole County Board of Commissioners agree. Commissioners approved a motion during a meeting last month. It will allow county staff to work with the elections office as they explore the possibility of building a new facility at the Five Points project in Sanford. That location is where the county plans to house all of its services.
“We all know this is of the utmost importance because voter integrity and the citizens trust in this fashion, this continues to be a problem and the sooner we can get something locked down for the future generation I think we’re better,” Commissioner Jay Zembower said.
Anderson said he would like to be in a new facility in time for the 2024 presidential election, but some commissioners aren’t sure of the timeline.
“I understand the reason for 2024. I really would like to have staff report back to us what’s reasonable,” Commissioner Bob Dallari said.
Anderson said he is hopeful they’ll be in a new building soon that will fit the county’s growing needs.
“Everything we do, including going after a new suitable office space, is to ensure that their choice counts,” he said.
Commissioners are expected to get an update on a new elections facility during the April 12 meeting.