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Saturday, Oct 21, 2017
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A justified voting reversal

Gov. Rick Scott has reversed himself on election reform, and if ever a flip-flop was justified it is this one. The governor two years ago signed legislation cutting early voting days from 14 to eight, though there was no apparent rationale for the change, other than early voting is popular with Democrats. The law contributed to Florida's 2012 election debacle, where citizens in some counties waited hours to vote. Scott, to his credit, acknowledged the fiasco, and his secretary of state, Ken Detzner, proposed a number of mostly sensible changes Monday.
Foremost among them is giving elections supervisors the option of extending early voting from eight days to a maximum of 14. Eight days may be plenty in a rural county, but large counties such as Hillsborough need more time, as do counties as densely populated as Pinellas. The state also should give supervisors flexibility on daily hours, allowing large counties up to 12. Another recommendation would establish a word limit on legislative amendments. Citizen-initiated amendments are limited to 75 words, but there are no curbs on lawmakers' verbosity. This creates a lengthy ballot, voter confusion and storage costs. Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer says because of last year's long ballot, he now has more than 1.5 million pieces of paper that by law must be kept for 22 months. Detzner also is right to want to jettison a recently passed law that would require the coded text of constitutional amendments, including stricken and underlined text, to be placed on the ballot. The secretary correctly suggests expanding early voting locations to government offices other than libraries and election offices but fails to address the need for voting facilities in areas with no government offices. Lawmakers should remedy that oversight.
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