Senate Democrats Name Non-Negotiable Election Reforms
As Florida lawmakers tackle election reform, Senate Democrats are demanding changes they say are needed to get their support. Democrats want to reverse controversial election reforms Gov. Rick Scott signed into law before the last election.
Democrats want early voting restored to a mandatory 14 days, up from the current 8 days, and to make the last Sunday before the election a mandatory early-voting day. And Senator Darren Soto, of Orlando says, there should be more early voting sites.
“The 2012 election here in Florida was a national embarrassment. I saw four-to-five-hour lines, folks snaking around the libraries and a handful of other early-voting locations, and out into the street. And it could have been avoided.”
Democrats also want constitutional amendment summaries to be limited to 75 words, to avoid long ballots. And they want voters to be able to change their address on Election Day, rather than having to vote a provisional ballot. Many of those proposed changes are not in a bill expected to pass the House soon. The Senate version is still being written.
The full list of the Democrats' demands is as follows:
1. Any effort to reform the elections law must provide for 14 days of early voting in every county. Early voting must end on the second day before Election Day ("Souls to the Polls" Sunday).
2. Supervisors of elections must have the same discretion in choosing early voting sites as they do in choosing Election Day sites.
3. Registered voters must be allowed to change their address at their polling place on Election Day and vote with a regular ballot.
4. Legislative constitutional amendments and joint resolutions must mirror limits on citizens initiatives. They must be capped at a 75-word limit and cover only a single subject.
5. One early voting site per 47,000 registered voters must be provided. In addition, wait times of longer than one hour in any early voting location would mandate the opening of an additional location or the addition of voting booths and machines to the early voting site.
6. Voters must be allowed to recast an absentee vote at the Supervisor of Elections office if there is a problem with their absentee ballot. Supervisors will contact them via phone and by posting the information online within 48 hours of receiving the flawed ballot. Voters must have until the Sunday before Election Day to go to the supervisor’s office and fill out a new ballot.
7. In-person absentee ballot voting at the Supervisor of Elections office must begin in all counties as soon as absentee ballots are sent out to requestors.