In another twist in Florida’s redistricting legal saga, Secretary of State Ken Detzner will ask a federal appeals court to dismiss him from a lawsuit filed by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown that challenges her redrawn district. Detzner’s attorney filed a notice last week that said the secretary of state is appealing a district-court ruling that kept him as a defendant in Brown’s lawsuit, which argues that a new redistricting plan violates the federal Voting Rights Act. The secretary of state, Florida’s chief elections officer, has contended for months that he is legally shielded from being a defendant in the case. A document filed in September, for example, said Detzner, “as a matter of law, is not responsible for congressional redistricting — that is uniquely a legislative function.” But a three-judge panel handling Brown’s case in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee rejected Detzner’s argument that he should be dismissed from the case.Full Article: Secretary of state appeals Brown redistricting case.
In a stinging blow to opponents of the state’s anti-gerrymandering amendments, a federal court this week has thrown out a lawsuit filed by two Florida Republican Party officials who claimed the new law violated the constitution because it had a “chilling effect” on their free speech and petition rights. Tim Norris, the Walton County Republican Executive Committee Chairman and Randy Maggard, the Pasco County Republican Executive Committee Chairman. sued the Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner in August, demanding that he not enforce the Fair Districts provisions of the state constitution. They made the argument being echoed by many lawmakers that their speech is chilled because, as members of a political party, it will be used to invalidate a map. Hoping to find a venue that was most favorable to them, they filed the case in the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola. But in a 16-page opinion, the chief judge of the district, Judge M. Casey Rodgers, who was appointed by George W. Bush, rejected their argument and dismissed the case.Full Article: Federal court rejects lawsuit challenging anti-gerrymandering law | Naked Politics.
In a stinging blow to opponents of the state’s anti-gerrymandering amendments, a federal court this week has thrown out a lawsuit filed by two Florida Republican Party officials who claimed the new law violated the constitution because it had a “chilling effect” on their free speech and petition rights. Tim Norris, the Walton County Republican Executive Committee Chairman and Randy Maggard, the Pasco County Republican Executive Committee Chairman. sued the Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner in August, demanding that he not enforce the Fair Districts provisions of the state constitution. They made the argument being echoed by many lawmakers that their speech is chilled because, as members of a political party, it will be used to invalidate a map. Hoping to find a venue that was most favorable to them, they filed the case in the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola.Full Article: Federal judge deals blow to those hoping to invalidate redistricting law | Tampa Bay Times.
After the Bush-Gore debacle in 2000, Florida became proactive. Punch cards and hanging chads were replaced with optical scanners.
But that was 15 years ago, and those new optical scanners are now old technology. “It’s an area of concern,” said Highlands County Elections Supervisor Penny Ogg. Her office has kept maintenance agreements. “They get a yearly going over by the vendor,” Ogg said.
Nevertheless, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has placed Highlands in a 30-county mix for voting machine replacements. A 12-county coalition with 14-year-old machines has asked for grants from the Department of State, and they’re asking the state with its greater purchasing power to buy the machines.
A bipartisan group of voters added to the list of redistricting lawsuits this week, filing a case in federal court challenging the Fair Districts amendments of the Florida Constitution as unconstitutional. The group, which includes some Alachua-based Republicans who call themselves the “Conservative Coalition for Free Speech and Association,” is suing Secretary of State Ken Detzner in an attempt to invalidate the anti-gerrymandering amendments approved by voters in 2010. Several members of the Alachua coalition fought the release of their private emails in pending redistricting lawsuits, claiming it violates their First Amendment rights. The court ordered the release of a limited number of those documents, which showed that many of them were political operatives engaged in what the court called a “shadow redistricting” process that aimed to influence the Legislature’s drawing of its maps in a way that favored Republicans.Full Article: Coalition files suit to invalidate redistricting law in Florida | Tampa Bay Times.
Following weeks of intense negotiations, the Florida Department of State has agreed to release funds obtained under the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to purchase a new state-of-the art voting tabulation system for a 12-county consortium that includes Franklin County. In an article published in late 2014, Secretary of State Ken Detzner expressed concerns with aging voting equipment being utilized in many Florida counties. His remarks mirrored conclusions found in a non-partisan presidential commission on the voting experience that was released last year. When emerging technology and “mileage” are factored, experts generally estimate the useful shelf life of tabulation hardware and software to be about 10 years. Franklin County is utilizing tabulation equipment that while has proven to be reliable to date, was purchased nearly 15 years ago.Full Article: Partnership paves way for new voting system - News - The Times - Apalachicola, FL.
With the 2016 presidential election on the horizon and the ghosts of elections past still haunting it, you would think Florida would have an acute sense for ensuring its voting processes are working as smoothly and efficiently as a Ferrari engine. A recent report, though, indicates the state still is operating like a ’74 Gremlin. The state auditor general, an independent officer hired by the Legislature, recently identified seven weaknesses with Florida’s voter registration system, a computerized database of voter information. … To summarize, the state’s voter database is at risk of failing and/or being compromised. That would make for some potentially chaotic voting scenarios in a high-stakes national election — everything from valid registered voters being denied the opportunity to cast a ballot, to allegations of voter fraud. Hanging chads would seem quaint by comparison.Full Article: Our View: Voting against another election disaster in 2016 - Opinion - Panama City News Herald - Panama City, FL.
Two Florida Republican Party officials have filed a federal lawsuit to block the state’s anti-gerrymandering constitutional clauses, arguing the provisions limit First Amendment speech and amount to “thought policing.” The lawsuit, filed Tuesday night in the conservative-leaning Pensacola division of the Northern District of Florida, comes less than a week before the start of a special legislative session to redraw some of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Citing email correspondence from GOP consultants, the Florida Supreme Court ruled last month that at least eight congressional districts were improperly drawn and violated the 2010 voter-approved “Fair Districts” amendments that prohibited lawmakers from intentionally drawing political boundaries to favor or disfavored political parties or incumbents. But Pasco County Republican Party chairman Randy Maggard and his Walton County counterpart, Tim Norris, say the amendments themselves infringe on their right to free speech. They also say the court’s interpretation of the law ultimately violates their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights because members of political parties are unfairly limited in speaking with elected representatives about redistricting in the future.Full Article: GOP suit: Florida redistricting law equals 'thought policing' - Marc Caputo - POLITICO.
Under fire once again for lapses in oversight of Florida’s voter database and lax communication, Gov. Rick Scott’s top elections official says he’ll “over-communicate” in the future. For embattled Secretary of State Ken Detzner, it’s an all-too-familiar refrain as he tries to improve his strained relationships with county election supervisors, who depend on a reliable database as they tabulate votes in Florida elections. In a conference call with the executive committee of the supervisors association Thursday, Detzner spoke from a prepared script and said the addition of new database hardware is ahead of schedule and that he would soon make site visits to counties. “I recognize the need to over-communicate our planning at the department,” Detzner told them, according to a three-page script of his remarks.Full Article: Embattled Florida elections chief goes on the defense | Tampa Bay Times.
Florida: Auditor general’s report critical of how Florida handles voter information | Tampa Bay Times
A highly critical state audit casts new doubt on whether Florida is ready to count votes in the 2016 presidential election and puts added pressure on Gov. Rick Scott’s top elections official to show improvement. The report by the state auditor general, an independent officer hired by the Legislature, criticizes the Department of State for its handling of the voter registration database in the nation’s biggest electoral battleground, a state with nearly 12 million voters and a long history of controversy involving voting. “It’s troubling,” Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley said of the report, which was released late last week. The Florida agency is run by Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Scott appointee and a former lobbyist with no previous expertise in election systems. He tried unsuccessfully last spring to kill legislation creating an online voter registration system, and issued ominous warnings to lawmakers that “forces of evil” could harm the database.Full Article: Auditor general's report critical of how Florida handles voter information | Tampa Bay Times.
As Florida heads toward a historic presidential election cycle with two home state favorites running, those in charge of orchestrating convenient, snafu-free voting statewide have charged that the administration of Gov. Rick Scott too often works against them, rather than with them. The ongoing tension was on display in Orlando Wednesday, as Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Florida’s top elections official, addressed a conference of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections. Association leaders are still fuming over Detzner earlier this year trying to torpedo online voter registration in Florida, which is offered in at least 20 other states and had overwhelming bipartisan support. His opposition came after he told supervisors he supported the initiative.Full Article: State’s top elections chief faces critics in Orlando | Miami Herald Miami Herald.
Voters in more than half the states will soon be able to register online, rather than filling out a paper form and sending it in. Twenty states have implemented online voter registration so far, almost all in the past few years. Seven other states and the District of Columbia are now in the process of doing so. That includes Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill last Friday requiring the state to allow online voter registration by 2017. Online voter registration has become so popular because election officials say it’s more efficient than a paper-based system, and cheaper. Voters like it because they can register any time of day from home, said David Becker, director of election initiatives for the Pew Charitable Trusts. “What election officials are finding, is they’re saving a ton of money, because they’re having to process a lot fewer pieces of paper by hand, right before an election, and get that into the system,” he said.Full Article: Cheap And Fast, Online Voter Registration Catches On : It's All Politics : NPR.
Florida will join nearly two dozen other states and make voter registration available online, but it won’t come before the crucial 2016 presidential election. Gov. Rick Scott today signed a bill that mandates online registration by October 2017. But Scott acknowledged he was approving the bill with “hesitation,” a nod to the criticism heaped on the proposal by the state’s top election official, who is appointed by the Republican governor. Secretary of State Ken Detzner chastised legislators for pushing online registration while the state is in the middle of replacing its statewide voter registration database and speculated that the “forces of evil” would hack into the new registration system.Full Article: Gov. Scott grudgingly OKs online voter registration | TBO.com and The Tampa Tribune.
Florida: Gov. Rick Scott with ‘some hesitation’ signs online voter registration law | Tampa Bay Times
Citing “some hesitation,” Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday that requires Florida to have an online voter registration system by 2017. The decision was a pleasant surprise to legislators and county election supervisors because Scott’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, had run an aggressive one-man campaign to kill the proposal. In a signing letter, Scott expressed concern about “the timing of required deliverables” that coincide with ongoing efforts to upgrade the state voter database. “This system has been experiencing maintenance issues, which election supervisors have rightly cited as a challenge to their duties,” Scott wrote. Scott also raised the issue of cybersecurity, saying that added technology results in more challenges and vulnerabilities.Full Article: Gov. Rick Scott with 'some hesitation' signs online voter registration law | Tampa Bay Times.
Governor Scott has little more than a week to decide on whether to approve a bill that would lead to online-voter registration in Florida. The bill was approved despite opposition from Secretary of State Ken Detzner. It is one of 68 bills that the Senate sent to Scott last week, triggering a May 22 deadline for the governor to sign, veto or allow the bills to become law without his signature, according to a list on the governor’s office website.Full Article: Scott Faces Looming Deadline To Sign Online Registration Bill « CBS Miami.
Florida: Despite pushback from Rick Scott admin, online voting bill goes to the governor’s desk | SaintPetersBlog
As part of an en masse drop of dozens of bills onto Gov. Rick Scott‘s desk courtesy of the Florida Senate, a bill to allow online voting registration sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Clemens now sits before the Governor’s Office, awaiting his review. Scott administration Secretary of State Ken Detzner openly opposed the measure, SB 228, as it wended its way through committee, saying it would interfere with already ongoing efforts to revamp the state’s voter rolls and registration system.Full Article: Despite pushback from Rick Scott admin, online voting bill goes to the governor's desk - SaintPetersBlog.
The Florida House agreed Tuesday to allow online voter registration but tacked on a provision aimed at heightening cyber-security — sending the measure back to the Senate for final approval. Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the state’s top elections official and an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott, has opposed the legislation, which sets online registration to begin in 2017. Detzner cautioned that problems could emerge with the measure that has drawn widespread support from lawmakers, county elections supervisors, and voter advocacy groups. The House approved the measure (CS/SB 228) 109-9 Tuesday. But the move came after Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, added a provision that authorizes the Scott administration to conduct a “comprehensive risk assessment” of online registration before the system is made available to the public.Full Article: House tightens cyber-security in online voter registration | Post On Politics.
Florida took another step toward becoming the 28th state to approve some form of online voter registration system Tuesday after legislation cleared the House with broad bipartisan support. The bill is strongly supported by local supervisors of elections, including those in Sarasota and Manatee counties. It tasks the state Division of Elections with developing a secure website for processing new voter registrations and updates to existing voter records. The legislation passed the Senate 34-3 on Monday but must go back for another vote after House Republicans added additional security measures to the proposal Tuesday.Full Article: Online voter registration moves forward | April 28, 2015 | Zac Anderson | HT Politics.
The Florida Senate on Monday overwhelmingly passed a bill that requires the state to create an online voter registration application by 2017. The 34 to 3 vote sends the bill to the House, where passage is also expected, despite strong opposition from Gov. Rick Scott’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner. To underscore bipartisan support for online voter registration, the Senate’s Republican leadership left a Democratic senator as the bill’s sponsor. The bill (SB 228) is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. Three Republican senators voted no.Full Article: Florida Senate approves bill to create an online voter registration | Tampa Bay Times.
Florida: Online voter registration steaming ahead despite top elections official opposing it | KeysNet
Florida should join the parade of 20 states allowing online voter registration, says the Monroe County Supervisor of Elections. “I think it’s a good thing,” Supervisor Joyce Griffin said Tuesday. “It would save paper, save money and save aggravation. It’s the next logical step.” The Florida Legislature seems to agree as House and Senate bills creating an online registration application by October 2017 are moving forward in the waning weeks of the spring session. A Tuesday vote on the House bill was delayed over questions about a $1.8 million cost for the new system. The primary opposition to the bill comes from the administration of Gov. Rick Scott. Scott’s appointed elections chief, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, warned of a “train wreck” and possible computer fraud by “forces of evil” in testimony to a Florida Senate committee April 15.Full Article: Online voter registration steaming ahead despite Florida's top elections official opposing it | News | KeysNet.