Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is quietly trying to scuttle legislation that would allow people to register to vote online in Florida, a stance that county election supervisors call “perplexing,” “inaccurate” and “erroneous.” No one from Scott’s administration has publicly opposed the idea. The administration’s behind-the-scenes opposition has opened a new rift between Scott’s office and county supervisors and stirred new speculation that the Republican governor may not want to expand the pool of voters as he explores a possible U.S. Senate bid in 2018. Florida would become the 25th state with an online voter registration program under a bill (SB 228) sponsored by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. The idea has broad bipartisan support as well as the backing of AARP, League of Women Voters and Disability Rights of Florida, and it unanimously passed a Senate committee Thursday.
But a staff report of the bill by Scott’s Division of Elections refers to the bill as a “mandate (that) presents potential risks and challenges” at a time when the state’s voter registration and driver license databases are both undergoing extensive changes. Florida relies on driver license information to verify voters’ identities.
The report says: “Malicious cyber-attacks and non-malicious malfunctions could potentially wreak havoc on an online voter registration system” and online registrations “could potentially increase the chances of votes being cast by someone other than the people actually registered to vote.”