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Politics

Ken Detzner Seeks Election Solutions Rather than Supervisors' Heads

February 3, 2013 - 6:00pm

There is some finger pointing in the secretary of states report on the 2012 election.

But dont look for the states top election official to call for the head of any county elections supervisor for problems from the 2012 election that were limited to a few counties and highlighted by people waiting up to six hours to vote, incorrectly printed ballots, delays in totals and misreading tabulators.

Instead, Secretary of State Ken Detzner -- in making his recommendations to the governor and Legislature focused on fixing the voting process in Florida -- said his role is to help the local supervisors, as evidenced by his intention to tell county commissioners to pay for technological upgrades needed to speed any Election Night counting.

As for the fate of the supervisors in the most troubled counties in 2012, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Broward and Miami-Dade, it should be up to the voters -- or in the case of Miami-Dade, the County Commission which appoints the supervisor.

Its about what we need to do administratively and to create more tools that supervisors need, Detzner said.

My call was not to roll heads; my call was to find solutions.

In his anticipated 12-page report to Gov. Rick Scott, Detzner proposed: allow mail ballots for certain special district elections; amend a number of the early voting days and location limits imposed after the 2010 election; and cap the number of words legislators can use for their own constitutional amendments.

(Read the report here)

Florida conducted a fair election in 2012, but Im also just as confident that we can do a better job for our citizens, because every election can be improved on, Detzner told members of the House Ethics and Elections Subcommittee.

The report puts blame on unnamed supervisors for being unprepared, county commissions for failing to fund needed technological updates, and legislators for shortening early voting --which is why Detzner is seeking to give greater flexibility to supervisors for early voting times and locations.

Its not just one entity, its not just the Legislature, its not just the supervisors, its the combination of things that make for good elections and we all have more to do, Detzner said after the hearing.

Subcommittee Chairman Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, supporting most of the proposals from Detzner and county supervisors, said he expects a single bill out of the committee in a few weeks to address any fixes.

Subcommittee member Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said the early voting should be mandatory the Sunday before Election Day.

Supervisors had told legislators that they preferred having the day off as a staff preparation day.

Detzner also noted that consideration should be given to giving counties the option to close schools on Election Day, to free up schools for precinct locations while increasing the number of professionals as well as students that could be available to serve as poll workers.

Its a creative idea, Detzner said. It may not work in Levy County but it may work in Broward.

Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley, while endorsing many of Detzners written recommendations included a few of his own for legislators to consider:

-- Prohibit people from dropping out of any primary contest five days after registering in order to save money on ballot printing when people file simply to close an election.

-- Redefine the 100-foot distance for campaigning outside a polling location to include any line of voters waiting outside a voting location.

Republican subcommittee members expressed skepticism toward the recommended election changes proposed by Ronald Bilbao, spokesman for the ACLU of Florida.

Bilbao suggested that the state should allow people to register the day of the election, let any registered voter vote at any polling location, making it easier for ex-felons to vote, and expand the recognized sources of identification for anyone to vote.


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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