The latest House makeover of Florida election laws stirred intense controversy Thursday as unions and grass roots political groups complained that it would suppress 2012 voting in a state Barack Obama won in 2008.
By a 12-6 party-line vote, the House State Affairs Committee approved the new bill, setting up a vote by the full House. Similar legislation will be taken up Friday by the Senate Rules Committee.
The 150-page rewrite surfaced the afternoon before the vote. Two weeks ago, a previous version of the same bill brought criticism from Democrats that it was being rushed.
The bill’s most controversial provisions would impose new restrictions on groups that register voters, shorten the validity of voter signatures on citizen initiatives from four years to two and require voters to cast provisional ballots if they move to another county. For nearly 40 years, Florida has allowed voters to update their voting address or a name change at the polls when they vote.