The council defeated the proposal, however, electing to hire buses that would be used to transport minorities to the polls.
Volusia County Elections Supervisor Deanie Lowe insists money has never been the issue.
"It's not a matter of $40,000; it's a matter of who is going to do it," she said. "Opening offices is humanly impossible at this late date. I'd need 10 extra people, and I can't just pull them off the street."
In nearby Duvall County -- where 27,000 votes, most of them from African American neighborhoods, were disqualified in 2000 -- activists also have unsuccessfully sought more early voting polling places.
Now Jacksonville, which in land area is the largest city in the contiguous United States, will have a single early voting site -- miles from any black neighborhoods.
In Gadsden County, anger from 2000 still divides residents in a community where whites and blacks remain polarized and where political control of the five-member county commission alternates between the races.
Shirley Green Knight, the county's black voting supervisor, says the high percentage of spoiled votes in 2000 was "an honest mistake" because of confusing ballots and a tabulation error with voting machines.
But Knight, who was an elections office employee at the time, received calls from blacks who suspected wrongdoing: "People were saying, 'What did they do to my vote? They cheated.' "
Some residents, both black and white, insist the county's ballot-casting errors were the result of something else: One in three adults can't read. They insist that the talk of black voter disenfranchisement comes from a handful of people who see race in everything.
"I don't blame the ballot or the system, I blame the voters," said Sterling Watson, a Democrat who is white and who has served on the county commission for 10 years.
He says 88% of county voters completed their ballots correctly. "If you're a teacher and 9 out of 10 students pass the test, I don't think the 12% should start complaining."
But other statistics make people believe there was evidence of systemic racism.
In the 2000 presidential election, a disproportionate number of the 2 million ballots invalidated nationwide were cast by black voters, according to a 2002 study by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. As the percentage of black citizens in a county increased, the study found, the spoiled ballot rate correspondingly increased.
About 175,000, or nearly 10%, of the national total of spoiled ballots were cast in Florida -- many by minorities, activists say.
Brenda Holt, a high school algebra teacher who is black and was elected to the Gadsden County Commission in 2003, insists that the 2000 presidential vote was emblematic of black disenfranchisement in a county where nearly all white students attend private schools, leaving blacks to a school system rated among the state's worst.
"Bush brags how he's setting up a free election in Iraq while he has yet to clean up the Florida mess," she said.
One indication that blacks still have a reduced voice in local politics came in 2002 when the then-white-dominated county commission voted against opening 10 new polling places in African American neighborhoods -- even though voting booths for the expansion had already been purchased, Holt said.
After she was elected to the commission, tilting its majority to African Americans, Holt led a vote to establish the new polling places for the Nov. 2 election.
Working with local Democrats, she and voting supervisor Knight have also instituted new measures aimed at bringing out the most black voters ever.
There are programs encouraging local ministers to lead carpools of parishioners to cast early votes following Sunday services, and Florida's Democratic Party has begun a "souls to polls" effort to visit rural churches and barber shops.
Along with a much-simplified ballot, Knight said the county had vastly reduced the number of discounted votes. Only three ballots were disqualified in the 2002 gubernatorial election and one in a runoff for a U.S. Senate seat in August.
Until last week, Aaron, the Democratic activist, helped run a "Truth Mobile" that traveled Gadsden County, offering fast-food coupons to black residents who registered to vote.
Now that the registration deadline has passed, she wants to make sure those people vote. She is offering rides to the polls, and if people are voting by absentee ballot, she'll provide the stamp.
"Some shake their heads and say, 'My vote doesn't make a difference anyway,' " Aaron said. "But we're very persuasive. We're winning them over."