BRADENTON – Florida Governor Rick Scott and his Secretary of State Ken Detzner are once again facing accusations of trying to manipulate election outcomes by meddling with voting rights. Scott, who'd already faced a major backlash after a state law reducing early voting opportunities led to historic lines and a failure to report the state's presidential election results on time in 2012, faced renewed criticisms last week when his appointee Detzner sent out a directive to election supervisors to limit the number of absentee ballot collection sites.
The directive tells supervisors of elections in all 67 counties that they are to cease accepting absentee ballots at remote drop-off elections and only alllow them to be dropped off at SOE headquarters. The change could have significant impact in the upcoming special election to fill the Congressional seat vacated by the passing of Republican Congressman C.W. Bill Young. Scott's 2010 gubernatorial opponent Alex Sink, a Democrat, is a strong contender for the seat, which has reliably been held by Republicans for decades.
Last year, more than 105,000 Pinellas County absentee voters returned their ballots to drop-off spots, according to the Tampa Bay Times. That number was over 40 percent of the absentee votes cast. In his directive, Detzner claims that his motive is to provide uniformity to the process. However, Florida law has historically given SOE's broad power to run their counties as they see fit, in order to allow them to meet the needs of voters and encourage a strong turnout.
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