Voting Rights Work Group Discuss Centralizing Database

Sep 17, 2019

Credit zimmytws / Adobe Stock

An amendment allowing felons to register to vote in Florida has been in effect since January 8th, but verifying which felons are eligible has proven problematic. The State’s Restoration of Voting Rights Work Group met today to figure out how to ease the problem.

Florida Department of State Secretary Laurel Lee says a central database is needed to simplify the process.

"One thing that has become clear is that there does not currently exist a single database where a citizen can find out that information. So, our greatest challenge is identifying some recommendations that’ll be helpful for the legislature in response to these types of questions. And how and who should be maintaining that information in a unified location," explained Lee.

But Tampa Republican Representative Jamie Grant thinks centralizing information is a broad approach.

"I would strongly caution against centralizing data. I think that’s a recipe for a number of problems. I think it is also something that would take much much longer. I would strongly encourage the development of APIs inside of each of the stakeholder groups," says Grant.

Grant says the APIs would allow for just the necessary data to be transferred and no more.

"When we think about centralized databases it is tantamount to if I have a key to the front door I can go anywhere in your house," explained Grant. "When we think about APIs it is tantamount to thinking I will give you a key just to the limited areas of my house."

Grant says APIs would be a faster and less costly solution to building a new database.

Lee and others in the state’s voting rights workgroup will be putting together the list of recommendations for the legislature. A consolidated database has been on the clerk of courts and supervisor of elections wish list since the amendment allowing felons to vote passed in 2018.