By a vote of 27-13, the Florida Senate has passed an election reform bill that now heads to Gov. Rick Scott for approval and signature. HB 7013 ("Florida Election Code") will substantially increase thehours and days allowed for early voting, impose word limits on ballot summaries for Legislature-proposed constitutional amendments, and allow voters to correct absentee ballots that contain missing signatures.
Earlier today, the House rejected a Senate amendment that would have given the Department of State authority to discipline noncompliant elections supervisors.
Scott was quick to indicate he would sign the bill.
Following the 2012 general election, we recognized there were inefficiencies in our election system that needed to be corrected, and I am very pleased with the Legislatures responsiveness, the governor said in a statement following the law's passage. Prior to the legislative session, I asked the Legislature to make our elections system more efficient, convenient and accessible, and thats what this bill does. I applaud the sponsors, Senator [Jack] Latvala and Representative [Jim] Boyd, for their efforts to craft legislation on our key objectives to add more early voting days, add more early voting locations and shorten the length of our ballot, while making other key reforms that will restore voter confidence.
Specifically, the bill:
Increases the number of early voting days and the hours allowed each day.
Supervisors of elections must offer at least 64 hours of early voting over the course of eight days, with a minimum of eight hours each day, but may offer up to 168 hours over 14 days, with 12 hours each day.
Expands possible early voting locations.
Elections supervisors may now hold early voting at civic centers, convention centers, county commission buildings courthouses, fairgrounds, and government-owned community centers, and government-owned senior centers. Presently, early voting can only be held at supervisors' offices, city halls, or public libraries.
Allows new county residents to change their addresses at the polls on Election Day and vote by regular ballots rather thanprovisional ballots.
Allows absentee voters who forget to sign a ballot to correct their mistake.
Limits Legislature-proposed amendment ballot summaries to 75 words or less.
However, that word limit can be exceeded if summaries need to be rewritten by the attorney general because the Supreme Court for some reason strikes them down for being misleading.
I am very grateful to the leadership of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for listening to the needs of Floridas voters and supervisors of elections, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said in his own statement following the passage of HB 7013. This good bill is a testament to their commitment to finding bipartisan solutions that will make Floridas election system the best in the nation by accommodating voters and giving every Floridian the confidence that their vote counts.
Reach Eric Giunta at email@example.com or at (954) 235-9116.