Ken Detzner Was 'Very, Very Close' to Removing Supervisors

By: Jim Turner | Posted: February 6, 2013 3:55 AM
Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Rick Scott and Ken Detzner

Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner

Because of the myriad problems across the state in the 2012 election cycle, Florida senators want more accountability over county elections supervisors.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Ken Detzner says he was “very, very, very close” to suspending a few supervisors from office last year, but didn’t because current law makes such action extremely difficult.

Detzner, who released a report on the 2012 contest on Monday that included proposals to improve future contests, told members of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee a day later that better defined standards are needed for the roles of supervisors.

On Monday, Detzner said he was now focused on improvements rather than “heads” because of 2012 problems that were widely reported out of Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward and Lee counties, where "each county had different and unique problems" including a "lack of good planning." But at the same time, updated guidelines should be included in any election reform for how incompetent or underperforming supervisors can be removed from office.

Without pointing fingers -- similar to the general statements in his 2012 election report to Gov. Rick Scott -- Detzner on Tuesday said there were unspecified situations in the general election and earlier contests in 2012 in which “an election in a county came very, very, very close, in my opinion, to a decision to have somebody relieved of their duties."

He said that while he thought about taking measures to remove a supervisor, he was never asked by Scott to consider such an action against an elected official.

“I can assure you that the trouble and problems in certain areas caused me to think about that issue,” said Detzner, who conducted a tour of the most problem-plagued counties following the November election.

Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, in looking at Detzner’s proposal for future elections, said the state needs more oversight because of the lack of performance and preparations by supervisors in St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties as they testified before senators last month.

"I would like to see from you or from our staff anything or something that would hold these supervisors accountable," Diaz de la Portilla told Detzner, adding, rules are needed to address the “suspension or replacement or probation for those who fail to perform by the governor's office, by the secretary of state."

Scott, who said he wants voters to “feel good” about the state’s election process, declined to comment later Tuesday on any proposal to give the secretary of state more oversight of the supervisors.

“I’d have to look at what they’re proposing,” Scott said.

Currently, other than voters, the governor can remove a supervisor, but the process isn’t easy.

Scott was able to remove Madison County Supervisor Jada Woods Williams in 2011 after she was arrested on an alleged voter fraud charge involving a local school board member.

In 2003, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush removed Miriam Oliphant from her post in Broward County following accusations of mishandling the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary, with voters receiving bad ballots and inaccurate registration information. Some polls opened late, others closed early and thousands of votes were not counted until a week after the election.

Bush acted after receiving a report from then-Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood, which found that Oliphant's office was "a very disjointed organization” and unprepared to handle future elections.

During that time, Detzner was chief of staff in the secretary of state's office.

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

Comments (2)

Jim Hanley
7:54PM FEB 18TH 2013
"Election Day" for a "Presidential Election" should be kept EXCLUSIVELY ***************for electing our President!
An American "Presidential Election" is so exceptionally important to the entire World it must be treated with the respect that such a very high and powerful position demands and deserves!
A "Presidential Election" includes the ruling power with which the winner shall have, to organize, re-organize and influence the lives of all American citizens, and others in the World!
The time and opportunity to vote one's choice to be the 'Leader of the World' for the following 4 years should be absolutely separate and rid of any and all possible restraint, hindrance, encumbrance, or distraction.
And, should not be included as a part of some conglomeration of items dealing with many State, or other subjects having absolutely no immediate relation to who shall serve as President of the United States for the next four years!
If there is to be "Early Voting", let that serve for resolving any 'Balloting' for State and Local items, such as "State Constitutional Amendments" and, keep the normally designated "ELECTION DAY" 'EXCLUSIVELY' for the 'Balloting'/Voting for: President of our United States!
Jim Hanley
12:27AM FEB 7TH 2013
Perhaps Diaz de la Portilla should focus on legislation that allows citizens to be able to easily remove or recall those elected officials most often creating anti-public mischief . . . . . florida legislators . . . . . that might help cull a little arrogance like Senator Alexander's in last year's sessions, or those in power who actually did try and suppress the vote and in some cases, were actually open about it (e.g. Senator Bennett's want to make voting HARD) . . . . that might help halt some of this nonsense . . . . like Diaz de la Portilla's current partisan efforts . . . .

Pathetic . . .

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