Completing His 180, Gov. Scott Calls For Restoring Original 14 Days Of Early Voting

Jan 18, 2013

RETHINKING: Gov. Scott signed the bill that reduced the early voting period and caused problems for voters such as these in Pembroke Pines. Now he says he favors returning to the original 14 days.
Credit Joe Rimkus

The state's election bureaucracy and local elections officials have already agreed that more early voting days would shorten the lines that kept voters waiting for hours on Nov. 6.

Now, Gov. Rick Scott -- who promoted and then signed the 2011 bill that reduced the early voting period -- has joined the chorus. He said Thursday county elections supervisors should have the option to conduct early voting on as many as 14 days, the number there was before the Legislature reduced it to eight.

And Scott said that period should include the Sunday before election day, a traditionally high turnout day for churchgoing black voters. The cancellation of the so-called "Souls to the Polls" voting day was taken by many as evidence of a Republican effort to diminish the African-American vote.

The News Service of Florida's account of Scott's recommendations includes a scornful response from state Democratic Chairman Rod Smith who said the governor is "leading from behind," fixing the election system that he broke, as his re-election campaign gets underway.

But, NSF continues:

Scott's proposal, particularly on early voting, may also be met with mixed reaction by Republicans, who have spent the last several years resisting efforts to increase the ease with which people can cast ballots. They've said that fraud is the primary concern, as well as cost, and the notion that at essence, there must be some limits on how far the state should go in making it easy for everyone to vote.

Political observers have noted, however, that Democrats have mostly pushed for more opportunities to vote, believing that they benefit from easier access to the ballot.

Legislators will have several opportunities to vote on voting bills during the session that  begins March 5. Two Democratic senators, Arthenia Joyner and Gwen Margolis, filed proposed legislation a couple months ago (SB 80, SB 82) seeking to expand early voting. Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami filed a bill this month (SB 176) that would allow early voting on the Sunday before Election Day. In the House, Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, has filed a bill (HB 25) to expand early voting.