Democratic voter expansion project for 2014 moves to Florida
The Democratic National Committee's nationwide voter expansion project is headed to Florida. The DNC says it plans to build a "new permanent infrastructure for the Democratic Party and its candidates" in key states, and hired Zach Learner, a Broward lawyer who until last month was chief of staff for County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, a candidate for a Florida House seat.
Learner, 33, is a 2008 University of Miami law school graduate. He worked on voter protection efforts in both of President Barack Obama's campaigns in Florida and for three years (2009 to 2012) was a legislative aide to Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood.
The DNC says the goal of the project is to create more access and more voters and protect the vote by "breaking down barriers, demystifying the process and making sure every vote counts." The DNC release claimed that Democrats support greater voter participation while Republicans have adopted a "cynical national strategy to decrease participation."
A Democratic website, iwillvote.com, features state-by-state voter registration information, but its Florida page provides timetables and other details only for the Nov. 4 general election, not the statewide primary election on Aug. 26. The site also does not highlight a significant change to Florida's voting laws that will be in place for the first time this cycle and is not yet well-known: A voter who asks that an absentee ballot be mailed to an address other than the one on file at the elections office must make the request in writing, not online or by phone as before.
That change, enacted by the Legislature in 2013, exempts active duty military personnel and could disproportionately affect college students and seasonal "snowbirds" who also live up north. It was one of many changes to voting laws in HB 7013, approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.
The bill revised Florida's voting calendar to require at least eight days of early voting and a maximum of 14 days and allows early voting at more types of buildings including "fairgrounds, civic centers, courthouses, county commission buildings, stadiums, convention centers, government owned senior centers and government owned community centers," in addition to elections offices, city halls and libraries.