Politics

Report on Long Lines, Other Election Problems May Miss Deadline

By: Jim Turner | Posted: January 29, 2013 3:55 AM
Vicki Davis, Brian Corley and Susan Bucher

Martin County Supervisor of Elections Vicki Davis, Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher

County elections supervisors may have to wait another week before they find out how the state’s top election official viewed their handling of the 2012 election.

The anticipated findings and recommendations that will be the product of a review by officials from the Division of Elections, including a tour by Secretary of State Ken Detzner of the county supervisor offices deemed the most troubled, may not be ready until after Detzner’s Feb. 1 deadline, a spokesman for Detzner stated.

“It is not completed yet, but I think it’s likely to be finished by sometime next week,” Detzner’s spokesman, Chris Cate, replied in an email on Monday.

Detzner’s report, called for by Gov. Rick Scott, is also expected to focus on changes that need to be made, particularly at the Central and South Florida counties, where much of the media attention was focused on long, slow lines and delayed results.

The potential delay comes as legislators continue to call county elections officials to Tallahassee for their own review of how Florida can lessen its image as a voting backwater. 

“I think we’ll be in a good position with the governor backing our recommendations,” said Martin County Supervisor of Elections Vicki Davis, who is among the supervisors asked to appear next week before the House Ethics and Elections Subcommittee.

Scott has backed the supervisors’ request for more flexibility in early voting locations and days, and in a reduction in the words allowed by lawmakers for constitutional amendments.

Supervisors have blamed some of the 2012 problems on legislators who in 2011 limited early voting to elections offices, city halls and public libraries, and reduced the number of early voting days, as well for the decade-old rule that legislators can have unlimited space for their own ballot proposals.

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, whose Democratic-leaning county has been unable to avoid the focus of election critics, told state senators that on one early voting day the long line was the result of a campaign robocall urging voters to get out for early voting just before the polls closed.

On Monday, supervisors expressed hope that most of their recommendations will be enacted.

At least to some point.

Meeting through Wednesday at the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort & Marina along the Intracoastal Waterway in Martin County, members of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections expressed a belief that legislators will eventually support the early voting days and location proposals.

They are less optimistic that legislators will agree to put a cap on the number of words they can put into a constitutional amendment referendum.

“I think there is a recognition that that was a problem in the most recent elections, but there doesn’t necessarily appear to be a groundswell to say we’re going to limit ourselves to 75 words like everybody else,” said Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley.

“There may be some effort to create some limitation so you don’t have 650 words again.”

That could mean a cap on the number of referendums in any given election, rather than a reduction in verbage.

Legislators have given themselves unlimited space on the ballot to ask voters to approve a change to the state Constitution as part of the post-2000 election debacle cleanup.

This past year, state lawmakers lengthened an already long ballot in a presidential election year with 11 amendments.

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, has questioned the need to fully change the law.

“That law was changed in 2000, it has worked well for 10 years and the one Legislature that put too many amendments on the ballot to change that law, when there was a good reason to do (it) to start, I think we have to think long and hard about that,” Latvala, who hopes his committee can make their own recommendations in February, said on Jan. 14.

Officials from the Division of Elections are scheduled to address the supervisors on Wednesday.



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

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