Poll Power

Accusations say Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is attempting a political power grab when it comes to state elections.

At issue is a proposal to give state government the power to do the job local elections offices traditionally take care of and the change could giver the governor the final say on who is eligible to vote and who isn't.

Sam Hayward was one of the countless voters incorrectly identified by the state on a list of 47,000 felons ineligible to cast a ballot. The People for the American Way sued to make the felon list public, expose its flaws and got it thrown out. They say the secretary of state should not be given greater control over who votes and who doesn’t.

Reggie Mitchell of People for the American Way says, "Then in 2004 they were caught again and they dropped the entire list, so it seems to me to the average voter that doesn’t merit being promoted to being in control of everything."

Florida election supervisors were clearly blind sided by the proposal until 48 hours ago they were working on this draft which clearly gives them the authority to decide who’s eligible.

Many supervisors are livid.

Ion Sancho, Leon County Elections Supervisor, says, "And the division of elections did it three times in 1998, 2000, and in 2004 has tried to centralize these procedures and they’ve flubbed it every time."

The ACLU says if there is going to be a central list, partisan office holders shouldn’t control it.

Larry Spalding of the ACLU says, "Clearly in Florida the secretary of state is an active political operative."

A day after it was unveiled, Jeb Bush is already backing away from the effort to control the list.

"I kind of like the idea that the supervisor should be responsible for maintaining the list," he says.

Legislative leaders are also lukewarm to the idea. As part of the proposal, the state elections office is asking for power to fine local supervisors up to $5,000 if they don’t follow the state’s legal advice.


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