Secretary Of State Recommends Election Reforms - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Secretary Of State Recommends Election Reforms

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The ball is now in the legislature's court to determine whether Florida's election process should be revised.

Last November, Florida was the last state in which a winner of the presidential election was projected.  Spurred on by Governor Rick Scott, there's a growing reform movement aimed at preventing the confusion and delays that frustrated voters in some areas.

On Monday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner issued a twelve page report (Recommendations for Increased Accessibility & Efficiency in Florida Elections) that included a review of the process and suggestions for improvement.

Secretary Detzner proposed three key reforms:  extending the early voting schedule to at least eight and up to 14 days; expanding the number of early voting sites; and, limiting the length of the ballot.

"I think overall with what the Governor and Secretary of State [have] recommended is a good step in the direction," said Mark Andersen, Bay County Supervisor of Elections.  "The real question will be what they do legislatively."

Andersen blames the lengthy November ballot – Florida voters considered eleven Constitutional amendments – for many of the problems.  Detzner proposes a limit of 75 words to summarize an amendment's intention unless the Legislature determines otherwise.

"It's huge that we get the language requirement removed because if we don't get that out of the statute we'll have ballots that are even longer than what we currently have," said Andersen.

Some state lawmakers have called for a crackdown on poorly performing elections supervisors.  Supervisors in Broward, Lee, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties have been singled out for sub-par performance in the November 2012 election.

Andersen, who previously served as president of the state association, said advance preparation is one of the keys to efficient elections.  "It still comes back to planning by the supervisor," he said.  "This last election proved that it's better to err on the side of having more than less."

For Governor Scott, the goal of reform is simple.  "We want everybody to feel comfortable about voting… that's what I'm focused on," he said.

Several election-related bills are already in the works for consideration by lawmakers when they return to Tallahassee in March for the 2013 legislative session.