Targeting five counties that saw the worst problems during the 2012 elections, Florida legislators are considering giving Gov. Rick Scott and his administration broader power to remove elections supervisors or put them on probation. Some critics say the move is an attempt to scapegoat supervisors for long lines caused mainly by legislators, who shortened early voting and lengthened the ballot with 11 proposed constitutional amendments. The proposal came from Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, a Miami Republican who sponsored the 2011 election bill (HB 1355), signed into law by Scott, that critics say made voting more arduous last year. Diaz de la Portilla’s latest measure would require supervisors to issue reports to the Florida secretary of state three months before an election, attesting to their readiness.
But Diaz de la Portilla, whose hometown Miami voters waited in some of the state’s longest lines and experienced some of the worst election breakdowns, said he wants to go further. He wants to “to have some kind of stick” if supervisors don’t follow procedures set out by their own office or by minimum standards created by the state Division of Elections.
But the Florida Constitution lets the governor suspend or replace supervisors for “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform their duties or commission of a felony.” It’s been done twice in 25 years.
Florida law also gives the secretary of state the authority to make a supervisor “enforce the performance of any duties” or “enforce compliance” with Florida laws or rules.