St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections Penny Halyburton wouldn’t have been disappointed if Gov. Rick Scott refused to sign the elections bill. “It puts an unnecessary burden on our voters,” she said.
The bill, called HB1355, enacts numerous election reforms in Florida. The two that most concern Halyburton are new rules regarding voters who change their address on election day and new restrictions to early voting periods.
Voters who need to change their address on election day will still be eligible to vote, but they will use a provisional ballot that will be checked by canvassing boards to ensure they did not vote twice or illegally change addresses.
Those votes will not initially go into the tabulator and will not be counted until the election period ends.
“It’s going backwards,” Halyburton said. “The technology is already out there and used to verify that information.”
She also said that new limits to early voting period — from two weeks to one week — will affect many St. Johns County residents.
“It’s unreasonable in today’s world to expect anyone to go somewhere in an exact span of time to vote,” she said.
In the 2008 presidential election, Halyburton said more than 50 percent of voters cast their ballots before election day. Although the election bill balances out the shortened period by allowing extra voting hours during the one-week early voting period, Halyburton believes it is nonsensical.
The county will have to pay workers overtime and spend more money to staff 63 polling locations, and it will also place a bigger burden on polling locations during election day.
“One election day is already more expensive than the entire 12 days of early voting,” she said. “You can work with early voting. You can’t work with election day, and I don’t want to burn out my staff before election day.”
Annette Cappella, chair of the St. Johns Democratic Party, believes the bill is like a new poll tax — a tax once used to impede the number of poor minority groups voting.
“It’s discouraging voters,” she said.
Full Article: Elections bill stirs mixed reactions – Ponte Vedra Recorder.