House's election reform legislation approved, despite criticism

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A 128-page rewrite of Florida? election laws drew opposition and harsh scrutiny today from election supervisors, grassroots political organizers and Democratic members of the House Governmental Operations Subcommittee. The Republican-drawn committee substitute of House Bill 1355 was substantially expanded from its original version and was presented to committee members today under short notice. While the bill sponsor, Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala), characterized the measure as a ?leanup bill?in advance of the 2012 elections, Democratic legislators noted that the rewritten measure includes highly controversial provisions, including ones that could inhibit voter participation in elections and make it harder to register new voters. For instance, one component of the bill would end the long-held practice of allowing voters to update their voting addresses at the polls on Election Day to ensure that their votes be counted. The bill says those people would be allowed only to cast provisional ballots, which may or may not be counted. Democratic caucus members on the committee voted against the bill. They include Reps. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth), Irv Slosberg (D-Boca Raton), Dwayne Taylor (D-Daytona Beach), and Barbara Watson (D-Miami). Rep. Jeff Clemens, the Democratic ranking member on the committee, led the questioning in committee Friday. He issued the following statement: ?ach day in the Legislature, seriously flawed legislation is being passed out of committees under the presumption that it will be fixed later. Why don? we fix these bills now? The language in this elections bill seems to place a presumption of guilt on the voters. Voters shouldn? need to jump through hoops in order to exercise their constitutional rights.?]>

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.