If Gov. Rick Scott signs recently passed election reform into law, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says he will lobby for a federal investigation of the new rules. The sweeping changes to the state’s election code have raised skepticism from supervisors of elections and nonpartisan voter groups worried that the reduced number of early voting days, stringent new rules on third-party voter registration drives and new change-of-address requirements will disenfranchise voters by making the process less accessible. Supporters of the bill contend the measures are necessary to crack down on voter fraud.
The bill was signed by legislative officers and delivered to Scott on May 6 for his signature. Lane Wright, a spokesman in the governor’s office, said the bill is not a priority for Scott, who is intensely focused on job creation, and the governor has not decided if he will sign the measure into law.
In a letter to Scott written May 5, Nelson asks the governor to veto the bill because of the “many criticisms” of the reform, including the reduced number of early voting days — from 14 to eight.
Nelson also wrote a letter to U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez requesting the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division begin a formal review of the bill. Five Florida counties — Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe — require preclearance from the federal government to modify their election practices under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because at one time they had voting practices deemed discriminatory.