Members of the House Ethics and Elections Subcommittee backed a committee bill on Wednesday that provides county supervisors with more flexibility on days, locations and hours for early voting.
The bill expands early voting from the fixed eight days to 14 days, depending upon the needs of the county supervisor of elections, and allows the Sunday prior to the general election to be used for early voting.
I believe this represents true election reform for Florida, said subcommittee chairman Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, who introduced the bill that closely mirrors the proposals from Secretary of State Ken Detzner and county supervisors.
Supervisors would also be allowed to consider using fairgrounds, civic centers, courthouses, county commission buildings, stadiums and conventions centers for early voting, which is currently limited to city halls, public libraries and election offices.
The bill also caps most legislative-backed constitutional amendments to 75 words, which is currently unlimited, and the 11 wordy amendments on the ballot received a lot of blame for Floridas 2012 election problems.
Committee member Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said the bill wont fully help reduce concerns that all votes are counted, pointing to the number of absentee ballots rejected last year.
Democrats, drumming up their opposition to sweeping election changes made in 2011 and seeking to avoid Florida again being a national Election Night laughing stock, intend to propose a number of changes to the House bill.
While withdrawing nine amendments from discussion on Wednesday, among the Democrats proposals:
-- expanding county canvasing board membership;
-- requiring early voting to be held on the Sunday prior to the general election when gubernatorial and presidential contests are involved;
-- giving the secretary of state power to impose fines on voting machine makers for defects in the system;
-- allowing people to update their address at the polls on Election Day;
-- and designating the general election as a statewide holiday.
Obviously, through a number of issues that have impacted the safety of our schools, in particular the Jessica Lunsford Act, it makes it very difficult for just the average citizen to go on schools and go and vote, said Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee.
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