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Politics

Rick Scott: We Need Short Ballots, More Early Voting Days

January 16, 2013 - 6:00pm

Gov. Rick Scott is backing county elections supervisors who have recently asked legislators to provide more flexibility in early voting locations, reducing the words allowed by lawmakers for constitutional amendments and expanding the number of days for early voting.

Scott released a statement with his recommendations after meeting with Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who is expected to complete a review of the 2012 election and make his own recommendations for improving the voting process in Florida by Feb. 1.

I asked Secretary Detzner to meet with elections supervisors following the November election to identify specific ways we can fix the problems we saw in some counties with long lines and delayed reporting, Scott stated in the release.

Our ultimate goal must be to restore Floridians confidence in our election system. I asked Secretary Detzner for a report with specific election reform recommendations, because I want to ensure we do whatever possible to improve our election system from the statewide level.

In short, these reforms need to address the three major areas I have previously outlined: We need shorter ballots; we need more early voting days, which should include an option of the Sunday before Election Day; and, we need more early voting locations. From my briefing with Secretary Detzner today, I believe all these reforms are strongly supported by the input and experiences of local elections supervisors and others that the department met with for ideas on improving our current system -- a system clearly in need of improvement.

Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, has filed a bill, Senate Bill 176, that would allow county elections supervisors to provide up to 14 hours of daily early voting, up from 12 currently allowed, and to add the Sunday prior to the election to the early voting period.

House Bill 25, by Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, would restore early voting from the eight days in place now to the 14 days that were in place before this year, including the Sunday before Election Day. The bill also would allow nongovernmental buildings to be used as early voting sites.

Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, which has called for a number of election reforms including the addition of early voting days, applauded Scott.

From increasing the number of days for early voting from eight to 14, allowing local supervisors of elections more flexibility in determining early voting locations, and restoring shorter ballot language for voters, these steps are essential to helping us put Florida's elections fiascoes behind us once and for all, Macnab stated in a release.

It is imperative to not only restore citizens' confidence in our electoral process, but also to show America that Florida can be snynomous with excellence in elections. We applaud the governor for taking a critical first step, and we now look to the Florida Legislature to do their part to protect our state's democracy.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, called Scotts recommendations realistic.

I applaud the governor for developing realistic solutions to fix a serious problem, Weatherford stated in a release. The House will take a close look at these recommendations as we determine the best steps to resolve the issue.

I thank the governor for leading and listening to citizens and election officials at all levels. I look forward to working with him as we make the changes necessary to ensure Florida has one of the best election systems in the nation.

On Monday and Tuesday, a group of county supervisors of elections urged legislators to provide more flexibility on where and how many days early voting could be held, and to limit the number of words they can use for their own constitutional amendments.

Since 2000, legislators havent been restricted to the 75-word limit that others face when putting an amendment to the state Constitution on the ballot. With 11 legislative amendments on the ballot this year, a number of counties found increased costs and polling delays as voters faced multipaged ballots.


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

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