Seeking to hold Gov. Rick Scott to a higher level of scrutiny should his administration call for a purge of Florida’s voting rolls in 2016, Democratic lawmakers have filed measures to mandate the listing of purged voters according to party affiliation. Under SB 736 and HB 523, election supervisors would be required to give the Florida Department of State bi-annual lists of purged Democrats, Republicans and those who belonged to other party affiliations in each of the state’s 67 counties. The Scott administration has been roundly criticized by election supervisors and voting rights groups for ordering a problem-riddled voter purge in 2012. From a list of roughly 180,000 voters the administration believed to be non-citizens and therefore illegally registered, just 85 were identified as such and removed from the voting rolls.
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.
After months of debate in the state capitol and weeks of worrying in county election offices, Florida Governor Rick Scott has now signed legislation that will make the Sunshine State the latest to move toward online voter registration. … Florida’s experience on OVR is just the latest example of how the policy debate has shifted on election issues in recent years. At this time four years ago, the hot topic was voter ID and all the divisive partisan heat that brings. While ID legislation lives on in some legislatures – and clearly in many legislators’ hearts – OVR’s emergence as the new trend in legislatures is quite remarkable.Full Article: Sign of the Times: Florida Governor's U-Turn on OVR - Election Academy.
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.
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.
Gov. Rick Scott’s chief elections official is in big trouble with two key groups: state legislators who write the voting laws and county supervisors who run elections. Secretary of State Ken Detzner can’t afford to alienate either constituency as Florida heads toward a presidential election in 2016, when the eyes of the nation will again be on the biggest battleground state. Lawmakers blasted Detzner Wednesday for fighting their plan to let people register to vote online by October 2017. Elections officials, meanwhile, were livid to learn that Detzner released private data on more than 45,000 voters — including judges and police officers — and didn’t alert them immediately.Full Article: Florida's top elections official under fire on two fronts | Tampa Bay Times.
Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is quietly trying to scuttle legislation that would allow people to register to vote online in Florida, a stance that county election supervisors call “perplexing,” “inaccurate” and “erroneous.” No one from Scott’s administration has publicly opposed the idea. The administration’s behind-the-scenes opposition has opened a new rift between Scott’s office and county supervisors and stirred new speculation that the Republican governor may not want to expand the pool of voters as he explores a possible U.S. Senate bid in 2018. Florida would become the 25th state with an online voter registration program under a bill (SB 228) sponsored by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. The idea has broad bipartisan support as well as the backing of AARP, League of Women Voters and Disability Rights of Florida, and it unanimously passed a Senate committee Thursday.Full Article: Gov. Scott's criticism of online voter registration angers counties | Tampa Bay Times.
Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t like to lose. But he lost an important court case dealing with voting rights and last week he decided to cut his losses, along with those of Florida taxpayers who have footed the bill for more than 2 ½ years. Scott dropped his appeal of a federal court order that said the state’s efforts to purge the voter rolls of suspected noncitizens during the 2012 presidential campaign violated a federal law that prohibits “systematic” removals less than 90 days before a federal election. And he issued a statement that signaled a new willingness to work with county elections supervisors, who opposed the purge. “Florida is in an excellent position to conduct fair elections,” Scott’s statement said. “I am confident that the 2016 presidential election cycle will put Florida’s election system in a positive light thanks to the improvements made by our supervisors of elections, the Legislature and the Department of State.” As a result, Scott is facing criticism from the right.Full Article: Bousquet: Gov. Rick Scott cuts state losses in long voting fight | Tampa Bay Times.
Commit any felony in Florida and you lose your right to vote for life — unless the governor and the clemency board agree to give that right back to you. The result: more than 1.6 million Floridians — about 9 percent — cannot vote, hold office or serve on a jury, according to The Sentencing Project, a prison-reform group. In most states, the percentage is less than 2. Only two other states have that tough a policy. Getting back those rights has become far tougher in the past four years. Under Gov. Rick Scott, 1,534 nonviolent felons had their rights restored. More than 11,000 others applied but are still waiting for an answer. Under former Gov. Charlie Crist, the clemency board automatically restored the rights of nonviolent offenders who served their time — and a total of 155,315 got them back during his four-year term.Full Article: Florida among nation's toughest places to have voting rights restored.
Florida: Democrats, stung by low turnout, consider shifting Florida’s election schedule | Tampa Bay Times
After yet another defeat blamed on low voter turnout, some Florida Democrats want to change the rules and elect the governor in the same year voters pick the president — when turnout is always much higher. In the aftermath of Charlie Crist’s narrow loss to Gov. Rick Scott, strategists are plotting how to put an initiative on the 2016 ballot that would shift statewide races back to presidential years, as they were in Florida until 1964. “Our state leaders should be elected by the greatest number of people,” said Ben Pollara, a Miami strategist who worked on the medical marijuana campaign. “How can you argue that having fewer people participate in the political process is good for the state?” Crist adviser Kevin Cate wrote an opinion column, which got picked up by liberal blog the Daily Kos, in favor of shifting statewide elections. It launched an online petition that argues: “More Floridians deserve to have their voice heard.” Backers have sought legal guidance from Jon Mills, dean of the University of Florida law school and a former House speaker, who also worked on the medical marijuana campaign.Full Article: Democrats, stung by low turnout, consider shifting Florida's election schedule | Tampa Bay Times.
As expected, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday ordered a special election for the vacant seat in Florida’s House District 64 for Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. The special primary election will be Feb. 10, with a special general election set for April 21. That means nearly 158,000 district residents won’t have representation in the state House of Representatives for the bulk of next year’s legislative session, which runs March 3-May 1. The move also potentially resets the field, with a new – though abbreviated – round of candidate qualifying set for 8 a.m. Dec. 15-noon Dec. 16. The previous incumbent, Republican Jamie Grant, on Monday said he will again file to run. He’s represented the district, covering northwest Hillsborough and eastern Pinellas, since 2010. His GOP challenger, Tampa engineer Miriam Steinberg, was less sure she would run again. In non-binding Nov. 4 results, Grant had won with 59.5 percent of the vote.Full Article: Scott orders special election for Tampa House seat | TBO.com, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times.
It’s the nightmare scenario nobody wants to discuss: an election night result for Florida governor that’s so close it demands a recount. “Oh, no, the R-word,” said Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley. “It’s going to be a close one. We’re ready.” It’s Florida. Anything can happen. With polls showing Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist in a virtual deadlock, both sides are making plans in case of a stalemate next week. Republicans and Democrats would mobilize armies of lawyers in a frantic search for ballots, triggering memories of the agonizing and chaotic five-week Florida recount that followed the 2000 presidential election. “Expect the unexpected,” said Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent.Full Article: Rick Scott, Charlie Crist ready to lawyer up if Florida recount needed (w/video) | Tampa Bay Times.
While Florida’s relationship with early voting is still relatively new, the honeymoon may already be over. But to understand the hot and cold affair, it is helpful to look back on the couple’s history. Former Governor Jeb Bush first signed early voting into Florida law in 2004, providing early voting fifteen days before an election, eight hours per weekday and eight hours per weekend. Only a short year later, Bush and a Republican legislature cooled on the partnership, dropping the last Monday of early voting before a Tuesday election. The relations heated up again when former Governor Charlie Crist signed an executive order mandating that early voting be extended in response to overwhelming voter turnout for the 2008 Presidential election. Under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott, Florida again turned its back on early voting in 2011 by passing a controversial law that reduced early voting to eight days before an election for a minimum of six hours and a maximum of twelve hours per day. The 2011 spat resulted in Florida’s embarrassing performance during the 2012 Presidential elections, where hundreds of thousands of Florida voters were discouraged by long lines and polling stations remained open hours after they were scheduled to close. All of which brings us to our most recent development, in which Rick Scott has given the reigns of the rocky relationship to county election supervisors. This newest law allows early voting to range from eight to fourteen days before an election, for a minimum of eight hours a day and a maximum of twelve hours a day. Of course, these extremely wide bounds left open the question of how early voting would actually be implemented on the ground. As we complete primaries ahead of the 2014 round of elections, the results are finally in.Full Article: Florida’s Lukewarm Remedy for Chilly Early Voting Policies : State of Elections.
National: Republicans in tight midterm races use election rules changes to increase odds | The Guardian
In 2007 Charlie Crist, the then Republican governor of Florida, astonished political friend and foe alike by putting a stop to what he saw as the state’s iniquitous practice of withholding the vote from released prisoners. He announced that non-violent former felons who had done their time would automatically have their right to vote restored to them. It was no small affair. In Florida, 1.3 million people have prior felony convictions, making this a very sizeable chunk of a total eligible electorate of 11 million. Former felons are disproportionately drawn from poor and minority communities, and as such, if they vote at all, they tend to lean Democratic, making the decision by a Republican governor all the more remarkable. But it didn’t last long. Four years later, Crist’s successor as governor, the Tea Party favourite Rick Scott, made a point of reversing the decision. That could prove crucial on 4 November for Florida’s GOP candidates, not least for Scott himself, who is in a bitter fight for re-election, with polls putting him neck-and-neck with his challenger – none other than Charlie Crist, now standing as a Democrat.Full Article: Republicans in tight midterm races use election rules changes to increase odds | US news | theguardian.com.