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‘Technology in Elections Act’ passes unanimously

in Peter/Statewide by

Great news for those of us who have been following Florida’s Technology in Elections Act – the bill, otherwise known as the Peter Schorsch bill because it was my complaint against St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Scott Wagman that prompted this legislative action, passed the Florida House of Representatives today by a unanimous vote of 114-0.  Here is the full release from State Representative Eric Eisnaugle (R-FL), the bill’s sponsor:

Today, Representative Eric Eisnaugle’s (R-Orlando) Technology in Elections Act (HB 869) passed the House unanimously 114-0. The legislation modernizes rules governing the use of technology in political campaigns. Current law does not contemplate the use of many new technologies or websites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google by voters and campaigns. Large portions of campaign budgets are currently spent on expensive traditional media like radio and television advertisements. However, voters increasingly report a preference to learn about candidates and issues on the internet.

“It’s vital to ensure that voters and candidates can hold a dialogue on the internet on the sites voters use,” said Eisnaugle. “If we want to lower the cost of elections, we must ensure that free, public websites are available for official candidate use.”

The Technology in Elections Act provides safe harbors on disclaimer requirements for candidates using text messaging, social networking sites, downloadable applications, blogs, message board postings and text link advertisements. A fall legal challenge in a St. Petersburg mayoral race raised questions regarding the use of Google ad links and therefore other media and technologies by candidates. Representative Darryl Rouson (D–St. Petersburg) co-prime sponsored the bill.

The legislation also included language to bring transparency to opaque Electioneering Communications Organizations (ECOs). The ECO language requires timely reporting on where and how these organizations raise and expend their funds.

H/t to my good friend Jordan Raynor.

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.

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