Florida’s election supervisors are rising up in opposition to Gov. Rick Scott in the wake of his push to rank them. State election officials have drawn up a list of rankings based on criteria that includes how quickly counties reported election results during the Jan. 31 presidential primary and when those counties set up early voting sites. The list was supposed to be released this week, but it has been delayed after a loud outcry by county supervisors. The rankings are being criticized because nearly all supervisors are elected, and there are fears the list is a prelude to the Republican governor asserting more control just months before the crucial 2012 elections. “I’m not a department under the governor, nor should I be,” said Ann McFall, the Republican elections supervisor from Volusia County. “He’s an elected official, I’m an elected official. He doesn’t rank me.” David Stafford, the GOP elections supervisor of Escambia County, also pointed out that voters assess them at least every four years.
Lane Wright, a spokesman for Scott, did not say why the governor pursued the rankings. The governor has agreed to “give this issue additional consideration. We will wait to post anything online until he’s had time to evaluate the concerns,” Wright said. A document obtained by The Associated Press shows that state election officials said the idea came from the governor’s office. The Division of Elections did not know that the governor’s office wanted to rank county supervisors until after the state requested information from each county.
There’s been an ongoing tug of war between local elections officials and state officials ever since the chaotic presidential recount of 2000 exposed flaws in the state’s election system. Gov. Jeb Bush in 2003 suspended one elections supervisor from office and later pushed for legislation that would allow the state to tell local supervisors how to do their job. A controversial elections bill passed last year by the Legislature allows the Secretary of State to give “written directions and opinions” on how supervisors are doing, but it is unclear what would happen if a supervisor ignored the state.