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State Government Failed Amendments Suggest Lawmakers Knew Election Mess was Coming


BRADENTON – Embarrassed by their worst in the nation results conducting the 2012 election for President of the United States, Florida Governor Rick Scott and the Republican state legislature are promising to get to the bottom of what happened to cause the debacle in which the last votes were not cast until the following day and results were not reported until four days later. However, HB 1355 seems to be the clear culprit, and amendments proposed by the minority party seem to clearly indicate that lawmakers were aware of the fiasco the new rules would cause, but ignored efforts to mitigate it.

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Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford

The new election law, passed by Republicans in the 2011 session amid fierce opposition from Democrats and non-partisan voter rights groups, was signed into law by the Governor, despite warnings that it would cause chaos similar to what voters endured last week. The law shortened early voting, made for longer ballots by expanding the summary of unlimited proposed ballot amendments, and created restrictions that ensured local supervisors would have more of the time-consuming provisional ballots to collect and count.

Incoming Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford has said they don't know what caused long lines; however, Weatherford and his House Republican colleagues repeatedly fought back efforts explicitly designed to curb the ill effects of their bill. Some supporters of the law are instead blaming local Supervisors of Elections for not being prepared; however, they failed to support amendments that would have empowered the local SOE's to act.

In fact, nearly every cause being blamed for the long lines and late results were addressed in proposed amendments that warned of the results, while offering solutions -- solutions the same Republican lawmakers throwing their hands up in the air fought tooth and nail against. Check out some of the failed amendments below that could have prevented last week's mess.

Amendment: AA 910767, May 5, 2011
Sponsor: Rep. Richard Steinberg, D-Miami Beach
Proposal: Give local elections supervisors more flexibility to expand early voting rather than leaving it exclusively up to the governor.
Result: Failed along party lines

Amendment: AA 981135, April 19, 2011
Sponsor: Rep. Scott Randolph,  D-Orlando
Proposal: Would have limited the ballot summaries of proposed constitutional amendments to 75 words, while placing limits on Legislature-proposed amendments, eight of which were rejected by voters. This would have not only made voting go faster, but counting shorter ballots as well.
Result: Failed in a party-line vote.

Amendment: AA 227265, May 5, 2011
Sponsor: Rep. Richard Steinberg, D-Miami Beach
Proposal: Ensure that early voting lines would not be longer than 25 minutes by requiring county supervisors to have adequate staffing and locations for an early voting process that was shortened by six days.
Result: Failed along party lines.

Amendment: AA 536956, May 2, 2011
Sponsor: Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa
Proposal: Sought to require more early voting locations and allow election supervisors to have early voting in more precincts. After the elections, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said that the lack of early voting sites caused much of the long lines and confusion.
Result: Failed in a party-line vote.


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