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Elections Commission Looks To Lawmakers For More Authority

The Florida Elections Commission is working on the finishing touches for proposed measures it hopes lawmakers will push in the coming session.The commission wants more authority to collect the fines it doles out.

Right now the Florida Elections Commission can assign fines for up to $1,000 per violation of the state’s election rules. Often those violations include things like  candidates failing to turn in the right financial records. But the commission’s hands appear tied when it comes to collecting those fines. The commission is charged with ensuring transparency in Florida’s elections and Vice Chair Seymour said he’s hoping lawmakers will consider proposals that would give the commission a little more authority.

"The chairman has direction from the commission on those items which based on case law interpretations or issues that we’ve seen could assist in amendments to specific elements of Florida statute that we review and are applied to us,” Seymour said

Some reports show there are more than a million dollars in unpaid fines issued by the commission. And some of the people who owe those fees are still in public office.  That’s one reason some members of the commission say they need more authority to do things like collect the fines they dole out. Others, like Commissioner Greg King say the group should tread carefully. He said the commission doesn’t want to become a collection agency.

“I do not think that it’s in the law today and given the budget that we’ve had recently those were my concerns. If we are to collect unpaid fines and they deem those are appropriate, then that’s fine. If they put it in the law, then we’ll do it,” King said.

The commission members said their goal is to give lawmakers a clear idea through their suggestions about what changes will help the commission better perform its duties.

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Regan McCarthy covers healthcare and government in Tallahassee, Florida. She is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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