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Bill backed by supervisors of elections clears its first Senate panel

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A bill that would make a long list of election law changes made it through its first Senate panel Tuesday with a unanimous vote.

SB 1160, sponsored by Fleming Island Republican Sen. Rob Bradley, has the approval of many supervisors of elections in the state.

Among the changes it would make are requiring candidates pay qualifying fees by cashier’s check, banning elected officials from serving as poll watchers, and giving supervisors of elections the option to publish sample ballots in a newspaper or mail them to registered voters.

The bill would also allow touch screen voting machines so long as they produce a paper trail for recounts.

The only part of the bill that turned heads was a provision that only allows courts to extend poll hours if there is a “specific showing or finding of fact that extraordinary circumstances exist to justify the extension.”

Bradley mentioned a few extensions in the 2016 election that he thought were unwarranted, and further insinuated that Democrats have used lawsuits to keep polls open in their turf.

“It’s usually done for strategic reasons,” he said.

The bill cleared the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee with a 5-0 vote and now moves on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

There is no identical version of the bill in the House, though HB 1325 by Republican Rep. Paul Renner makes many of the same changes found in Bradley’s bill.

That bill cleared its first panel last week.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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