Florida lawmakers passed a dramatic overhaul of state election law Thursday night, a move that GOP legislators say will bring integrity to the process and one that Democrats counter will disenfranchise voters across the state.
The measure, a major rewrite to the laws that govern the state’s elections, passed 79-37. Among other things, the measure (HB 1355) would limit voters’ ability to change their address at the polls, change third-party voter registration rules and make it more difficult for citizen groups to put amendments on the ballot.
It also sets up a committee that will decide when the state’s 2012 presidential primary will take place.The GOP-led Legislature said the measure would root out voter fraud and add credibility to Florida’s elections, which have been known for its glitches since the 2000 presidential election. “I think in any election, mistakes are made,” said House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park.
Democrats blasted the measure, calling it an assault on voters’ rights. In particular, they said it would severely limit the likelihood that the votes of college students or military personnel be counted.