Democrats delivered Florida to President Barack Obama for a second time last month and loosened Republicans’ grip on power in the state Capitol. But they may have won something more meaningful in the 2012 election than a few more seats in the Legislature. As they gathered Monday in a caucus room in Tallahassee, Democrats had one thing on their minds: how to maintain ownership of the hottest issue in the state now. That is, protecting the right to vote and holding Republicans accountable for long lines, delayed ballot counts and an expansion of provisional ballots. The election may be over, but the fight over how the election was managed has only just begun.
“The people are counting on us to drive this debate and win it,” said Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg. He’s the House sponsor of a bill to return to 14 days of early voting and to expand early voting sites far beyond what Republicans have allowed.
For more than a decade, as Republicans rolled up bigger and bigger majorities in every election, they have dictated the agenda in Tallahassee.
But Democrats believe they now own the voting issue and that public opinion is firmly on their side.