Florida became a punch line after the 2000 presidential election when pregnant and hanging chad and butterfly ballots became household words. Evidently, Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature reckoned late-night comics needed new material. Consider: In the early voting period before Election Day, Floridians languished in long lines. Ditto on Election Day; in Miami, some voters cast ballots well past the witching hour.
Shades of 2000: Even after every other state had been called, Florida couldn’t certify President Obama’s victory here until Saturday, four days after Election Day. Again, the nation enjoys a cackle at the expense of Florida rubes who late-night jokester Craig Ferguson cracked are more confused about voting “than an old person with an iPhone.”
That’s not guffaws you hear from Floridians. It’s righteous railing over lengthy ballots and lengthier lines, anger aimed at Scott, who, unlike previous Republican governors, stuck to his guns over early voting scheduling despite the logjams, and shot citizens’ interest in the foot.
Still, he told WKMG-Channel 6 that he was “very comfortable that the right thing happened.”
Baloney. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be buttonholing his secretary of state to discuss potential improvements. There’s no debate: In next year’s legislative session, Scott and lawmakers must make changes.
To his credit, new House Speaker Will Weatherford vows lawmakers will look into the glitches. They needn’t look far for fixes.
To shorten lines in the next presidential election, the state should expand the number of early voting sites and restore the two-week early-voting period the state slashed last year to eight days. A no-brainer.
Second, lawmakers shouldn’t clutter the ballot with constitutional amendments. And it makes sense for lawmakers again to adopt the 75-word limit imposed on petitioners who succeed in getting a constitutional amendment on the ballot. In 2000, the Legislature exempted itself from amendment brevity.