Fla. House passes election reform on opening day of session

Not wasting any time, the Florida House of Representatives went to work on the opening day of the 2013 Legislative Session and passed priority election reform legislation, updating the Florida Election Code.

House Speaker Will Weatherford’s office released the following:

“Today’s passage of this important election reform bill highlights our commitment to better serving our voters and improving Florida’s elections process,” House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) said. “I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for diligently working together to provide sensible reforms that will give our counties the flexibility to run more efficient elections.

“House Bill 7013 is a step in the right direction so that Floridians know that every vote counts,” House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale) said . “Florida needs more voting days, more polling locations, and for those voting sites to be properly staffed and properly equipped.”

HB 7013 provides for a minimum of eight and maximum of 14 early voting days, and a minimum of 64 and maximum of 168 early voting hours, while expanding early voting sites to include fairgrounds, civic centers, courthouses, county commission buildings, stadiums and convention centers. The legislation also introduces new word limits on legislative ballot summaries.

“This legislation will go a long way in helping to restore confidence in our election system and ensure future elections run smoothly,” House State Affairs Chairman Steve Crisafulli (R-Merrit Island) said.  “I appreciate Representative Boyd’s hard work on this bill and thank him for his commitment to passing election reform.”

In January, Speaker Weatherford identified election reform as a priority in the House and Senate’s “Work Plan Florida.” The bill was developed in response to concerns that arose during the 2012 election in Florida.  The bill previously passed the House Ethics and Elections subcommittee with bipartisan and unanimous support.

“While no election is perfect and it is impossible to predict all future problems, the House’s passage of this bill today is a significant step toward helping ensure Florida voters have ample opportunity to cast a ballot and participate in fair and efficient elections,” bill sponsor Rep. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) said.

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