Florida Legislature
7:16 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Democrats File Bills To Revive Early Voting

State Sen. Gwen Margolis, Miami, has introduced some changes to early voting for 2013.
Credit Flsenate.gov

After this year's disastrous election in Florida, state lawmakers are looking to make some changes to some of the culprits for the long lines and delayed ballot-counting.

Among the changes: Democratic state Sens. Gwen Margolis of Miami and Arthenia Joyner of Tampa have introduced bills that would make early voting more accessible and last longer.

Both women have introduced similar bills for the upcoming Florida legislative session, which begins March 2013.

Senate Bills 80 and 82 both open up possible early voting sites to include "the  main or branch office of [local elections supervisors] and may allow such early voting in any city hall, public library facility, courthouse, place of worship, civic center, convention center, community center, county government center, conference center, community college facility, university or college," or any other location that is approved and designated by each county's election supervisor.

The bills also add more days to early voting. Experts say the 2011 voting bill passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature made voting more difficult for minorities because it cut down the number of early voting days for this election. African-Americans have historically been more likely to use early voting than other populations.

Margolis' and Joyner's bills would also push back the start of early voting from the 10th day before an election to  the 15th day. Early voting would also end the second day before the election, instead of the third, which would reinstate the "souls to the polls" tradition, popular with African-American churchgoers, of voting together after services on the Sunday before election day. 

Early voting days, if these bills are passed, would be 12 hours each day, instead of a maximum of 12 hours each day.

Reporting from David Royse, The News Service of Florida, was included in this story.