Election reform was the topic of discussion in a Senate Ethics and Elections Committee meeting held Monday in Tallahassee. A brief summary and opinion from Henry Kelley, a leader in the Florida tea party movement :
If you review the State’s paid media, you’d swear that the Supervisors of Elections (SOE’s) one after the other blamed the Legislature for all the problems in 2012.
Actually, the Supervisors did a good job of addressing issues that need to be addressed. In fact Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher argued for the very Tea Party principle of less control in Tallahassee and more control be given back to the counties. In most cases, I couldn’t agree more!
But therein lies the danger of giving control back to the local level. A bad Supervisor of Elections at the county level can certainly impact election results. Palm Beach’s well documented problems during the 2012 general election caused me to question the validity of all statewide campaigns in Florida.
The truth is SOEs and their performance must be above reproach because if we cannot trust election results…we no longer have a Republic.
So, on one hand I applaud the SOEs for asking for more control, however, the Legislature needs to go slow on how much they turnover. Ms. Bucher’s performance in the last cycle and her comments cannot go unchallenged, and she is the cautionary tale before we revert authority back to the SOEs.
Very little finger pointing occurred as it was brought out that the rule that enables the Legislature to write amendments as long as it wants was crafted between 1998 and 2000. Opinion was virtually unanimous among committee members that legislatively written amendments must be limited to 75 words or less. Chairman Jack Latvala seemed cool to the idea, but let’s hope the Legislature goes down this path.
Additionally, the SOEs asked for:
- Far more flexibility in choosing early voting sites
- The idea of different rules for non-Presidential years was briefly discussed. I hope this is further examined.
- Expand early voting from 8 days to 14.
- Absentee ballots were a hot topic, with several ideas tossed around. Look for “vote by mail” proposals to come soon.
More to come on the Ethics portion of the hearing.
Henry Kelley offers BizPac Review readers an exclusive analysis of what’s happening in Tallahassee. The Florida Legislature is currently in committee week.
Henry is a small business owner in Fort Walton Beach, a prominent leader of the Florida tea party movement and a decorated Army veteran who served in Desert Storm. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and an MBA from Rollins College.