Thoughtful Election Reform…Maybe

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By: Mike Vasilinda

In 2011, state lawmakers rushed through massive changes to state election law while ignoring those who had to administer it. It resulted in Florida being the laughing stock of the nation when votes weren’t counted till Friday, but this time lawmakers are being careful about fixing the problems.

Some voters in South Florida were still in line Wednesday morning, after the election and some votes weren’t counted until Friday, once again making Florida a national joke.

“Florida tonight remains too close to call. So where is the good news you say? Here it is: the election was decided without them.”, proclaimed host of The Daily Show Jon Stewart.

The problems were caused by ill thought out changes to the election law in 2011. Now lawmakers are taking their time trying to fix the problems they caused. The fixes include more early voting hours and more early voting locations. “Fairgrounds, civic centers, courthouses, county commission buildings, stadiums, convention centers.”, says Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg.

The election fix passed on party lines. Democrats say it doesn’t go far enough. “Not just gonna settle for mediocre elections bill.”, says Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale.

One problem is a plan that require witnesses on absentee ballots and a provision that oversees military must request a ballot in writing.

“The percent of ballots we rejected overall in our 2000 canvassing board were rejected because of the problem with the existing witness signature at that time.”, says Paul Lux, Supervisor of Election Okaloosa County.

Two years ago when lawmakers were changing election law they were told there would be problems they just didn’t listen.

But supervisors say they are grateful they are at least being asked this time. “We are having input. The process is open.”, Ion Sancho, Leon Elections Officer.

A vote by the full Senate could come as early as next week.

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