Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist hints at vetoing bill to rewrite Florida election laws

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday strongly hinted that he would veto a proposed rewrite of Florida's election laws as a broad array of grass-roots groups launched an all-out assault on the legislation.

"What is it we're trying to cure?" Crist asked in a Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau interview. "The more opportunity you give people to vote, the better it is for democracy. So that aspect of it concerns me."

The Republican-sponsored bill would eliminate two forms of voter ID used mainly by older voters — cards issued by neighborhood associations and retirement centers.

The measure (SB 956) also would require all paid petition circulators to register with the state, and would require any voter whose address changes less than 29 days before an election to cast a provisional ballot. Those voters can now update their addresses at the polls when they vote.

"It always seems to me that when there may be legislation that attempts to sort of make it harder for people to do something — the people we work for — generally that's not good," Crist said. "I don't look on that in a favorable light and that is true of this particular part of this legislation." Asked if he would veto it, Crist said: "I don't like to use the V word … but I'm not fond of that provision. It concerns me."

Crist signed an executive order last fall extending the hours of early voting in a high-turnout presidential election in which Democrat Barack Obama won Florida's 27 electoral votes — the first Democrat to win Florida since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

The 80-plus page proposed rewrite of the election code, which surfaced for the first time last week, says nothing about early voting, however. A Senate committee limited public testimony to about 10 minutes, and a House council shut down debate after only six minutes and denied several people the chance to testify in public.

"This ridiculous bill surfaced in the dead of night with no attempt to really discuss, question or debate what was going on," said Rep. Janet Long, D-Seminole.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, who served as elections supervisor for Hillsborough County for 10 years, also fired off a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist, urging him to veto the elections bill. She said the current legislative action reflects an "arrogance that is offensive to all who care about good government."

Among the public interest groups calling for defeat of the bill Monday were the League of Women Voters, AARP, AFL-CIO, NAACP, Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities and Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. Joining them at a news conference were more than a dozen legislators, all of them Democrats, who cited a critical editorial in Sunday's New York Times.

"I look at it as group of folks who do not want to accept the fact that a Democratic president won the election in Florida," said Rep. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville. "That is the bottom line. Get over it. … It's not fair to punish people because you lost."

The bill's sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, a political consultant, said his bill is necessary to crack down on voter fraud. "We have to make sure that every vote is protected," he said. "Every time you allow an illegal vote, you're disenfranchising legal votes."

The bill also would make it a crime for anyone to solicit or interact with voters within 100 feet lined outside polling sites, including nonpartisan volunteers who are available on Election Day to inform voters of their rights. Thousands of lawyers fanned out across polling precincts last fall as part of a Democratic effort to ensure that voters were not discouraged from voting.

"Our state faces the most dramatic budget crisis in recent memory and lawmakers are fast-tracking a bill loaded with costs that will discourage voter participation?" said Brad Ashwell, spokesman for Florida Public Interest Research Group.

Times/Herald staff writer Alex Leary contributed to this report, and information from the Associated Press was used.

Crist hints at vetoing bill to rewrite Florida election laws 04/20/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 3:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Kevin Kiermaier: Return to action Thursday 'didn't set the world on fire'

    The Heater

    Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier's return from the hip injury that sidelined him since June 8 could have gone better Thursday in Port Charlotte. He broke two bats and went hitless in two at bats while playing for the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs.

    Kevin Kiermaier takes cuts in the cage during batting practice before the game between the Rays and Texas Rangers Saturday at Tropicana Field. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  2. U.S. economy gathers steam in second quarter

    Business

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy revved up this spring after a weak start to the year, fueled by strong consumer spending. But the growth spurt still fell short of the optimistic goals President Donald Trump hopes to achieve through tax cuts and regulatory relief.

    A government report released Friday showed economic output picked up in the second quarter. 
[Associated Press file photo]
  3. What you need to know about Bucs training camp

    Bucs

    Bucs training camp is here.

    This morning was the first of 13 practices that are free and open to the general public, so we have all the details to answer your questions about where and when and so on.

    Dirk Koetter is nothing if not precise, with practices starting at 8:45 a.m. and running until 10:27. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Fennelly: It's high time for Bucs to take Tampa Bay back

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Welcome to the proving ground.

    Bucs training camp begins today.

    Hard Knocks and flop sweat.

    Work and more work.

    "We have a lot to prove,'' wide receiver Mike Evans (13) says. "We're good on paper, but we've got to do it." [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Old dog's lucky day: Video shows firefighters rescuing 12-year-old Shar-Pei mix from bay

    Pets

    MIAMI BEACH — Junior spent Thursday night lounging on a pillow, too tired to move.

    Jose Ruiz takes a selfie with his dog named Junior after Junior was rescued from Biscayne Bay. [Photo courtesy of Jose Ruiz via Miami Herald]