Senators approved an online voter registration provision Thursday — even though the state official tasked with implementing the system pleaded with them not to. For 45 minutes, Senate Appropriations Committee members grilled Secretary of State Ken Detzner on why he opposed Sen. Jeff Clemens’ SB 228, which is supported by the state’s supervisors of elections. The bill requires the Division of Elections within Detzner’s agency to implement a statewide voter registration system by Oct. 1, 2017. The system would allow prospective voters to enter their driver’s license of Florida ID number online, which would be checked against Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles records before being sent to a local supervisor of elections.
Clemens said the bill saves supervisors of elections money and is more secure than the current paper system. Senators ultimately approved the bill by a 13-4 vote.
But Detzner said placing a date on implementation without an assessment and budget could potentially put the system at risk. His office would be forced to juggle creating the system with upgrades to their 10-year-old software program as well as the 2016 presidential election, he said. On top of that, he would need to coordinate his system with DHSMV, which is also making changes to its driver’s license registration system, as well as the state’s 67 supervisors of elections and tax collectors, he added.
“I would prefer to have a plan in place before I knew I had an implementation date,” he said. “This is too important to do it wrong.”