Despite opposition from the governor’s top elections official, legislation that would allow Floridians to register to vote online was sent to the Senate floor Thursday. Meanwhile, the House delayed a floor vote on a similar measure because of a question about $1.8 million that would be needed to fund creation of the new high-tech application. The Senate Appropriations Committee, in a 10-4 vote, backed a measure (SB 228) that would require the state Division of Elections to develop an online voter-registration application by Oct. 1, 2017, a year later than proposed earlier. “I admit I have some concerns about this bill, and they’re not concerns about the bill itself,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat who is sponsoring the bill. “It’s about whether or not the agency is actually going to do what we tell them to do, or find excuses to not do it again. And that’s concerns me.”
Secretary State Ken Detzner, who told the committee he knows what a “train wreck is and they’re not pretty,” expressed unease about having a deadline to implement the program before a plan is in place. “I’m concerned about having the date hanging over my head, because it forces a realignment of the people and the resources, the taxpayers’ resources, of what this job is,” Detzner said.
Detzner said his agency will be busy next year overseeing what is expected to be the largest election in state history and is already undertaking a two-year rewrite of the statewide voter-registration system. Detzner added that his office would also be under deadline pressure to coordinate the required online registration changes with 67 county supervisors of election and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.