Following the disastrous 2000 election and the implementation of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), elections supervisors in the state of Florida have been faced with a host of election administration rules and regulation changes every election cycle and 2012 appears like it will be no different.
Today, Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed sweeping election-reform legislation that will decrease the length of time for early voting, create more reasons to cast a provisional ballot and will alter how third-party registrations are conducted.
“As a Supervisor of Elections in Florida, I had secretly hoped that there would be little to no legislation introduced this year that would have a major impact on elections and election administration,” said Linda Harrington, Lee County supervisor of elections. “We have been dealing with major changes to our election processes and equipment on both the federal and state level since 2002 when the Help America Vote Act was enacted. I don’t think any of us anticipated the enormity of these legislative changes to the Election Code.”
The legislation was controversial from the beginning because it was introduced late in the session and the debate was highly charged politically. The House version of the legislation (HB1355) was approved 77-38 along party lines while the Senate voted 25-13 with two Republicans breaking ranks to vote against the legislation.
“I want people to vote, but I also want to make sure there’s no fraud involved in elections,” Scott said at the time of the signing. “All of us as individuals that vote want to make sure that our elections are fair and honest.”
Although the bill was highly partisan in nature, David Stafford, supervisor of elections for Escambia County did point out that it did include some provisions put forward by the Division of Elections and supervisors of elections. Still, Stafford and many members of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections were opposed to the legislation as a whole and not only testified against it, but also tried to work with their local electeds.
“I appeared before the legislature several times on behalf of our state association (FSASE) during consideration of a variety of election law changes,” said Stafford. “We spoke out against specific provisions, several of which unfortunately were included in the final bill. Among those were: changes to early voting, forcing certain voters who change their address on election day to vote provisionally, enhanced powers granted to the appointed Secretary of State over the independently-elected supervisors of elections, changes to how constitutional amendments may appear on the ballot, and new and enhanced reporting requirements, to name a few.”
Full Article: Electionline Weekly