League of Women Voters Seeks Two Weekends of Early Voting

The League of Women Voters of Florida, which was behind the redistricting changes that voters approved in 2010, has released recommendations for the 2013 legislative session as state lawmakers are undertaking their own reassessments of the 2012 election.

"Early voting restrictions, an outdated voter registration system and a lengthy ballot all coalesced to create excessive lines, delays in the counting of ballots and a significant number of disenfranchised voters in 2012,” League President Deirdre Macnab stated in a release.

Among the recommendations:

• For general elections and their primaries, provide a minimum of nine days for early voting, with an option to extend to 14 days. The early voting period should include at least two weekends and at least two weekdays with extended access of 12 hours or more

• Allow supervisors of elections the ability to select early voting sites in each county consistent with the procedure used to select Election Day polling sites.

• Restore the prior protocol that allowed voters to update their address at the polls on Election Day and still cast a regular ballot.

• Develop an online voter registration system to supplement the current, paper-based system. Online voter registration, currently used in 15 states, can significantly reduce costs for already strapped state and local governments and can reduce errors that occur from misinterpreting handwritten forms.

• Create a uniform and timely process for notifying voters if their absentee ballot has been accepted or rejected, and allow voters whose absentee ballots have been rejected a remedy for ensuring they are not unduly disenfranchised.

• Address mobility and safety concerns for voters who are disabled or elderly and provide an expedited process to allow them to vote without having to wait in line.

• In response to the 2012 ballot, which was loaded with lengthy, complex summaries of 11 constitutional amendments, require legislatively proposed constitutional amendments be held to the same standards for clarity and concision as citizens' initiatives, including limiting ballot summaries to 75 words or less.

The League's release comes as county supervisors of elections are set to appear Monday before the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, and Secretary of State Ken Detzner continues to work on his own review and recommendations for Gov. Rick Scott.

Meanwhile, Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, has filed a bill, Senate Bill 176, that would allow county elections supervisors to provide up to 14 hours of daily early voting, up from 12 currently allowed, and to add the Sunday prior to the election to the early voting period. House Bill 25, by Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, would restore early voting from the eight days in place now to the 14 days that were in place before this year, including the Sunday before Election Day. The bill also would allow nongovernment buildings to be used as early voting sites.

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