The Florida House passed a sweeping overhaul of election laws Thursday that Republicans say will streamline voting machinery and Democrats say will make it harder for people to vote in the nation's biggest battleground state in 2012.
Passage on a 79-37 party-line vote followed two days of intensely partisan debate -- a harbinger of next year's presidential election when Florida's newly-increased 29 electoral votes and all 160 legislative seats will be at stake in a pivotal reapportionment year.
In another sign of the muscle-flexing power of Republican super-majorities in both houses, the GOP is making changes to the voting machinery for the next election, and the vastly outnumbered Democrats are powerless to stop it.
"This is a great country. Our vote is precious, and we're going to protect it," said Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, sponsor of the bill (HB 1355).
“This is a bad elections bill. It sets bad precedent and sets bad policy,” said Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg. “We are fixing something that doesn’t need to be fixed.”