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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Two contrasting views of Florida's election law changes

State Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, issued a news release Thursday calling on legislative leaders to quickly send the new elections law to Gov. Rick Scott so he can sign it. That will happen soon enough.

Edwards, a first-term lawmaker and member of the House Ethics and Elections Subcommittee, touted the key parts of the bill (HB 7013). They include making early voting mandatory for 64 hours or eight hours a day for eight days with the option of up to 168 hours, or 12 hours a day for 14 days; allowing the option of early voting on the Sunday before Election Day; expanding the potential sites for early voting; and allowing people casting absentee ballots to fix their ballot if they forget to sign the ballot envelope.

"While there's still more work to be done to fix Florida's elections system, I am confident that we have accomplished much during this session to help Floridians exercise their fundamental right to vote," Edwards said.

Not everyone is so enamored of the new law. Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the advocacy group The Advancement Project, wrote in a letter to the editor in the May 8 New York Times that the Legislature's response to the problems at the polls last year was "disappointing."

"This legislation falls woefully short of achieving the kind of election reform that Florida citizens need," she wrote. "It fails to reach the bare minimum of reversing the damage caused by Florida's 2011 law, which cut early voting nearly in half. Rather than fully restore the mandatory 14 days of early voting that Florida citizens enjoyed before 2011, it allows election supervisors to offer 8 to 14 days at their discretion ... Last year's outrageously long lines required bold reforms, not tinkering around the edges."

[Last modified: Thursday, May 9, 2013 3:12pm]


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