Gov. Rick Scott’s chief elections official is suspending a politically charged election-year plan to purge noncitizens from Florida’s voter rolls, citing changes to a federal database used to verify citizenship. The about-face Thursday by Secretary of State Ken Detzner resolves a standoff with county elections supervisors, who resisted the purge and were suspicious of its timing. It also had given rise to Democratic charges of voter suppression aimed at minorities, including Hispanics crucial to Scott’s re-election hopes. Detzner told supervisors in a memo that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is redesigning its SAVE database, and it won’t be finished until 2015, so purging efforts, known as Project Integrity, should not proceed. “I have decided to postpone implementing Project Integrity until the federal SAVE program Phase Two is completed,” Detzner wrote.
Florida’s new battleground over voting is the unlikeliest of places: a cozy branch library in Pinellas Park. It’s one of five remote locations where Pinellas voters put absentee ballots in locked boxes under the watchful eyes of poll workers. Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark has used libraries and tax collectors’ offices as dropoff sites in the past three election cycles as a way to encourage people to vote absentee and avoid the possibility of long lines at early voting locations. Clark’s dropoff sites have become symbols of her emphasis on voting by mail or absentee over all other forms of voting. Her three early voting sites in the 2012 election were by far the fewest of any large county in Florida.
Florida: First Step To Online Voter Registration In Florida, Bill Moves Forward | Daily Business Review
A Senate committee moved forward with a bill that would allow online voter registration in Florida and put new restrictions on drop-off locations for absentee ballots. The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee unanimously approved introducing the measure (SPB 7068), which will still have to return to the panel for another vote. Because of that, Democrats backed away from offering amendments that could still become flashpoints in the debate over the measure. Much of the controversy over the provisions in the bill focused on language that would allow elections supervisors to provide secure boxes to receive absentee ballots, but only at early-voting locations and supervisor of elections’ offices.
Florida: Voting bill would allow on-line registration; restrict absentee drop-off locations | Palm Beach Post
A Florida Senate committee Monday moved forward with a bill that would make a few changes in Florida election law, including putting new restrictions on drop-off locations for absentee ballots and allowing online voter registration in the state. The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee unanimously approved introducing the measure (SPB 7068), which will still have to return to the panel for another vote. Because of that, Democrats backed away from offering amendments that could still become flash points in the debate over the measure. Much of the controversy over the provisions in the bill focused on language that would allow elections supervisors to provide secure boxes to receive absentee ballots, but only at early-voting locations and supervisor of elections’ offices.
At the urging of state Sen. Jack Latvala, the Senate will take up voting law changes that include preventing counties from using satellite locations where voters can drop off absentee ballots. The proposal is aimed at Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark, but it antagonized two other supervisors who say dropoff sites save money and are convenient for voters. The Senate plan follows a confrontation in December between Clark and Gov. Rick Scott’s top elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who ordered an end to dropoff sites because no law allows it. Clark continues to defy the directive and is using five sites in the Congressional District 13 special election.