House works overtime haggling over elections bill
In a largely-deserted Capitol, the Florida House worked late into the night Monday discussing a controversial rewrite of the election code. For two-and-a-half hours, Democrats fired skeptical questions and amendments at Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who managed HB 1355 in advance of a floor vote on Thursday. Forty-two amendments were filed to the bill and Republicans succeeded in preventing Democrats from making any changes, and the marathon session ended at 10:46 p.m.
Baxley said his goal is to being "transparency, accountability, credibility and integrity" to the voting in the 2012 presidential election. The bill requires groups registering new voters to submit all forms within 48 hours, down from the current 10 days, or face $50-a-day fines. Voters who moved since the last election could no longer update voting addresses at the polls on Election Day, unless they moved within their county.
Baxley said he was concerned that voters could vote twice, once by absentee ballot and again at the polls. Pressed by Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, Baxley could not cite any specific cases. "I don't have the aggregate number you're seeking," Baxley said.
Voter signatures on ballot initiative petitions, now valid for four years, would be valid for two years. Voters could not be approached while standing in line, even they were further away from the polling place than the 100 feet now called for in state law.