Gov. Rick Scott has finished the fix of the flawed election law that relegated Florida to a late-night joke in 2012 by signing an elections clean-up bill passed on the final day of the legislative session. The measure, signed by Scott late Monday before he left for a trade mission to Chile, reverses several provisions implemented in 2011 by GOP lawmakers in anticipation of the 2012 presidential election. Those changes, criticized by Democrats as an attempt to suppress votes for President Barack Obama, limited the early voting that the president’s campaign capitalized on in 2008. The 2011 law also prevented early voting on the Sunday before Election Day and prohibited voters, particularly students, from changing their voting address at the polls. Scott, who had previously signed the 2011 bill into law and refused to use his executive powers to extend early voting in 2012 despite numerous requests, acknowledged the system needed a fix.
“There were inefficiencies in the 2012 General Election — and our system needed to be corrected,’’ the governor said in a statement on Tuesday. “I asked the Legislature to enhance our system of elections and they met the challenge.”
League of Women Voters of Florida President Deirdre Macnab hailed the reforms, saying “it will go a long way in repairing the damage done by the 2011 voter suppression bill.” She conceded, however, that persuading lawmakers to pass HB 7013 was not easy, adding that “sometimes it felt like climbing a mountain with concrete boots” and she urged the public to “stay vigilant to ensure that our elections system does not slide backwards.”