Embarrassed by an elections meltdown, lawmakers headed to the Florida Capitol this year with a pledge to undo a law that helped lead to long lines, angry voters and jeers about “Flori-duh.” But the elections clean-up bill that the House passed on the very first day of the legislative session has yet to pass the Legislature as the last day dawns. Lawmakers overwhelmingly support the plan to reverse a 2011 election law by expanding the number of early voting sites and days. The bill also gives people a chance to correct an absentee ballot they forgot to sign and would make it easier to prosecute people caught with multiple absentee ballots. But there’s a major hang-up between the House and Senate: a plan to punish election supervisors deemed ineffective and “noncompliant” with the state’s election code.
“We think it’s a little bit punitive,” House Speaker Will Weatherford said Thursday, indicating the proposal would be stripped from the bill.
It all revolves around the county that was a poster child of electoral dysfunction: Miami-Dade.
The Senate wants the punishment language, partly to target supervisors like Miami-Dade’s Penelope Townsley, who defended the way her office handled the last election when some voters waited more than eight hours to cast ballots. A number of Miami-Dade voters cast ballots after President Obama was declared the 2012 winner.
“Suffice it to say no matter what the Legislature decides to do, I will continue to do my job to the best of my ability,” she said. “I really don’t take a position on whether anyone was targeted or not. I just am very confident that I will do my job,” she said. “I will comply as I have in the past with all of the requirements under statute.”