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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Elections corrections

Democrats are up in arms because an elections bill passed by the Florida Senate this week does not mandate 14 days of early voting. They should take a deep breath. There is no reason for every county, regardless of its population, to keep polls open two weeks. This measure allows elections supervisors to decide how many days to have early voting, which could run from eight to 14. The supervisors can determine their citizens’ needs better than a blanket mandate. Indeed, this is a rare case of the Legislature respecting local officials’ judgment.
The elections measure, to be sure, is flawed, particularly a provision that gives the politically appointed secretary of state undue authority over the elected supervisors. This could lead to political mischief and should be excised when addressed by the House. The bill also does not go far enough in imposing a 75-word limit on the ballot summary for any constitutional amendment proposed by the Legislature, allowing exceptions to that limit. Citizens’ constitutional initiatives are limited to 75 words. The Legislature’s proposals are not. Lawmakers’ extraordinary lengthy amendments last fall drastically slowed the voting process. Still, for the most part, the legislation does a reasonable job of undoing the disastrous elections “reform” bill of two years ago. That notorious measure summarily cut early voting from 14 days to eight, restricted voting sites and required provisional ballots for voters who changed addresses, all changes that seemed to target minorities and the young, who tend to vote Democrat. When voters endured long lines and confusion during the 2012 election, even champions of the original bill, including Gov. Rick Scott, conceded it needed to be changed. This bill may be imperfect, but it extends early voting, expands voting locations and eliminates some unnecessary voting obstacles. It represents progress.
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