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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida ready for 2016 elections?



From the state that brought hanging chads and butterfly ballots into the national consciousness, comes new assurances that everything is under control heading into the 2016 presidential election.

Ken Detzner, Florida's chief elections official, told a panel of state senators on Tuesday that his office is prepared for both the March 15 presidential election and the November general election.

"We are going to be ready for this election, and I am pleased to report that to this committee," Detzner told the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee just moments before they voted to confirm his reappointment as Florida Secretary of State, the job he has held since February 2012.

That prompted relief from State Sen. Jeremy Ring, a Broward County Democrat and chairman of the committee.

"Well, I'm glad you said that with confidence, because it will be the most important thing you will be doing" Ring said.

As secretary of state, Detzner also oversees state historical and cultural records as well as his duties of overseeing elections. 

Most of the discussion over whether to reconfirm Detzner centered around his roll handling elections in the nation's largest swing state in presidential politics. Detzner said the state's moving to implement online voter registration for 2017, the Legislature has passed bills to deal with long lines at voting sites that have plagued past elections, and the state's computerized statewide voter lookup system is in order, thanks to leadership from the state's Supervisors of Elections. 

State Sen. John Legg, a Pasco County Republican, asked Detzner about some "chatter" about the possibility of the state returning to having an elected Secretary of State like it had prior to 2002, when Republican Katharine Harris was administrator over the 2000 presidential election.

Detzner, reminded Legg, that he served as secretary of state from 2002 to 2003, partly to help it transition the office from having been an elected position. But he was quick to add he has no official position on the idea.

"I am neutral on that position," Detzner said.

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 26, 2016 11:40am]


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