Yet another flap between state officials and Florida’s county election supervisors is in the news, raising new questions about the motives of Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his appointee, Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Are they committed to making it easier for all eligible Floridians to vote or is their real goal to make it more difficult? So wondered U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, before meeting with Tampa Bay area elections supervisors. “I just don’t understand why the state keeps making it harder for people to vote,” he said. Good question. First, the governor signed a bill in 2011 that restricted the hours for early voting, raising the ire of county supervisors. They warned of lengthy delays for voters during the 2012 presidential election. They were so right that some voters in South Florida stood in line for eight hours just to exercise their constitutional right. That’s unconscionable. Then-Monroe County Elections Supervisor Harry Sawyer famously fought Scott on the early-voting issue (losing when the federal government sided with the governor), becoming somewhat of a folk hero nationwide for those who believe in more opportunity to vote, not less.
National: Gloves come off as general election approaches – State and local election officials butt heads over variety of issues | electionlineWeekly
With only 75 days until the November 6, 2012 General Election, more and more news stories are focusing on the increasingly contentious nature of the administration of that election — especially between state and local officials. From voter purges to early voting to a general lack of confidence, state election officials seem to be clashing with local elections administrators on a more frequent basis as summer turns to fall. Interestingly enough — or not — most of these state/local clashes have occurred in swing states. One of the more high profile instances has been in Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott recently threated to remove from office Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer for Sawyer’s failure to agree with the state’s early voting law. Scott and several elections supervisor butted heads over the state’s plans to review information from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and purge voter rolls of potential non-citizens, but it never reached the height that it has over early voting.
A fight over early voting in Florida deepened on Wednesday as an election official who will oversee voting in the Florida Keys in November’s presidential election refused to reduce the number of early-voting days despite a warning from the state’s governor. Harry Sawyer, the supervisor of elections in Monroe County, which includes the Keys, told Reuters he plans to allow 12 days of voting ahead of the election even though a 2011 Florida law cut the number to eight. Florida is among a handful of states that could determine the outcome of the race between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney. The issue of early-voting restrictions has also played out in Ohio, another prized swing state, where the Obama campaign filed a lawsuit to legally challenge moves by state officials to reduce the number of early-voting days. Democrats claim early voting restrictions are designed to limit Democratic voter turnout, particularly among working-class voters, who are more likely to work jobs with less flexibility to take time off to vote. Republicans argue the measures are intended to reduce voter fraud.