At this point, the slogan for Republican Secretaries of State around the country seems to be: “If it ain’t broke, break it!” That’s certainly the case in Florida, where Sec. of State Ken Detzner — fresh off his and Governor Rick Scott’s embarrassing and failed 2012 purge of supposed “non-citizen voters” from the rolls (with another more recent attempt underway since then) — is at it again. And this time, Detzner seems to be facing a full-blown uprising from county Supervisors of Elections (SOE) refusing to carry out a new directive which would make it more difficult for absentee voters to cast their ballot. The elected SOEs are claiming that the new directive by Detzner, an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott (R), was neither asked for nor necessary under state law. They Supervisors have also denied Detzner’s initial claim that the directive was issued in response to requests by two SOEs. Last week, Detzner issued a directive [PDF] to county SOEs instructing them that they may no longer allow voters to use secured remote absentee ballot drop-off stations created at locations like public libraries and tax-collectors offices. Suddenly, according to Detzner’s new rules, all absentee ballots must either be mailed in, or dropped off at county election offices.
The directive was issued just prior to an upcoming special election to replace the late, long-serving Republican Congressman Bill Young in the 13th Congressional District, and it has led to both suspicion for its motives, and somewhat of a bi-partisan mutiny from election officials, leading one well-known Florida SOE to respond tersely to The BRAD BLOG’s request for comment last week this way: “I do have a comment, legally it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on”…
That sharp response came from Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho. He is so entrusted by both major parties in Florida that he was placed in charge of the state’s 2000 Presidential recount (at least until it was cancelled by the U.S. Supreme Court.)
But he’s hardly the only election official seemingly prepared to defy the Detzner order. Pinellas County SOE Deborah Clark, a Republican, emailed a reply to Detzner [PDF] on Monday, cc’d to all of the SOEs in the state, stating flatly that she plans to continue using drop-off locations for absentee ballots, “including in the impending special primary election.”
The 13th Congressional District in Florida, where the election will be held to replace Young, is now entirely in Pinellas County.
After describing her list of detailed security procedures for drop-off locations in her county, along with what she sees as legal inconsistencies in Detzner’s interpretation of the Florida election statutes, Clark wrote that her current procedures “are in full accord” with “both the Election Code and the guidance set forth by the Florida Supreme Court” for the casting and collection of absentee ballots.