Secretary of State, Ken Detzner, released his “Recommendations for Increased Accessibility and Efficiency in Florida Elections” which emanated from his investigation into the 2012 General Election in Florida. Secretary Detzner testified in both the House and Senate Ethics and Elections committees that the number one complaint he encountered during his statewide tour was the length of lines at polling places. Secretary Detzner attributed the lines to a record voter turnout, a shortened early voting schedule, inadequate voting locations and the length of the ballot, and offered legislative remedies for each in his report. In addition, the Secretary testified that in some instances additional funding would probably help Florida perform better during the next election. To that end, we are currently seeking input from our members on potential funding needs. We are also seeking feedback on his report which can be found here.
Senate leadership’s ethics reform bill, SB2, unanimously passed its first of two committees on February 6, 2013, with a very important amendment regarding the prohibition of dual public employment for elected officials. In its original form, the bill would have prohibited an elected official from holding a second job in the public sector while in office. Some local elected officials raised concerns over this provision especially in areas of the state where government plays such a vital role in the job market. As a result, Sen. Rob Bradley offered an amendment that would prohibit such dual employment only in instances where the elected official knew, or should know, the job was established or offered to him or her in order to gain influence or advantage based on the elected official’s status. It is expected that additional clarifying language on an elected official’s ability to obtain a second public job will be considered when it is heard next Tuesday, February 19, in the Senate Rules committee.
Meanwhile, the House Ethics and Elections committee filed its committee bill on elections Wednesday. The new package (HPCB EES-1306),extends the early voting period from eight days to up to 14 days, increases the number of early voting hours from 96 to a maximum of 168, allows voting to be done at sites like civic centers and fairgrounds that have more parking than the office locations currently used and applies the 75-word limit on ballot summaries to constitutional amendments passed by the Legislature. The Senate Ethics and Elections committee is still work-shopping their elections bill but is expected to address most of these issues as well. FAC will continue to stay very engaged in this legislation.If you have any questions or need additional information please contact Lisa Hurley.