Cooling a hot issue, Fla. lawmakers pass voting-reform law

Photo Credit: WOKV.com

OK, OK, enough already.

Tired of being the butt of late-night jokes, the Florida Legislature on Friday passed an election overhaul bill that aims to cut out some of the problems that plagued the state’s 2012 election.

While the vote includes more early voting days and makes it easier for voters who move between elections to cast a ballot – key demands of Democrats – Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, Oakland Park, said he could not support the bill, calling it “only a start.”

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, however, stressed that the bill was a major step toward getting rid of Florida’s national reputation for bungled elections.

The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton.

The state’s voting problems have been a national joke since at least the 2000 presidential election in Palm Beach County, but South Florida doesn’t have a monopoly on the issue.

In arguing for the bill, Latvala cited a 2011 case in which Gov. Rick Scott removed the supervisor of elections of Madison County from office over absentee voting irregularities and other issues.

In a statement released after the session ended, Scott praised the bill.

“I applaud the sponsors, Senator Latvala and Representative Boyd, for their efforts to craft legislation on our key objectives to add more early voting days, add more early voting locations and shorten the length of our ballot, while making other key reforms that will restore voter confidence,”   the statement said.

“I look forward to signing this bill when it reaches my desk.”

Before the Senate voted, Latvala also noted that the House had passed the companion bill by a vote of 115-1, indicating its bipartisan appeal.

That appeal – and near unanimity — didn’t extend to the Senate, though. It passed 27-13.

The vote was, at least, final.

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