Legislator Wants To Change Some Overlooked Parts Of Florida's Voting Law

Dec 12, 2012

State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.
Credit MyFloridaHouse.gov

There have already been a number of bills filed by Democratic state lawmakers to change parts of Florida's controversial voting law during the upcoming  Legislative session, which starts March 5.

Most of the bills, so far, focus on early voting rules that were changed in 2011 -- when the Republican-controlled  Legislature overhauled the state's voting law.

Early voting has gotten a lot of attention recently because many voting rights groups and experts say the reduced early voting days, mandated by the new voting law, made lines longer and kept people from voting in Florida.

But there were other parts of the voting law that angered other lawmakers and voting experts.

State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, has filed a bill that seeks to reverse many of those controversial, yet mostly overlooked, parts of the voting law as well as glitches in older laws that were exposed during this year's tumultuous election.

His bill, HB 25, if passed would:

  • Change rules that made it harder for third-party groups to register voters in Florida.
  • Reduce the amount of time required for people who have switched parties to wait before they can run for public office.
  • Permit a voter who has moved to use a regular ballot at their new polling place by signing a document.
  • Delete a requirement that a voter's change of residence has to occur within same county for that voter to vote in his or her new precinct.
  • Remove the courts' power to authorize printing the full text of a constitutional amendment or revised amendment on a ballot.
  • Require a court to remove a proposed amendment from the ballot once all ballot statements are determined to be defective and all appeals are exhausted.
  • Remove  the Florida Attorney General's authority to revise a ballot title or summary.
  • Expand the list of available early voting sites.
  • Provide requirements for determining the number of early voting sites. 
  • Increase the number of days and hours for early voting. 
  • Allow courts to consider additional evidence when an absentee voter's signature is challenged.

Currently, the state Attorney General has the ability to change the language of ballot measures. However, historically this was left up to the Florida Legislature. 

Many election officials say this year's long ballot was partly to blame for long lines at the polls. One of the reasons that the ballot was so long was not only that there were a lot of amendments on the ballot, but each measure had its full text presented. For some measures, that meant more than 500 words were on the ballot for just one measure.