Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Politics

Darryl Rouson, Charlie Crist call for voting reforms in Florida

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — State Rep. Darryl Rouson announced Wednesday he will submit a bill to expand early voting in response to long lines and delays in Florida's vote counting during last week's election.

His bill would restore early voting from the eight days in place now to the 14 days that were in place before this year, including the Sunday before Election Day. It also would allow non-government buildings to be used as early voting sites to expand the number of locations, among other measures.

"No state in this country, let alone Florida, should ever require people to stand in line and vote at 1 a.m.," Rouson said at a news conference in downtown Tampa, where he announced the bill. "Florida was the laughingstock of the nation again this year when it came to voting.

"We ought to be tired of that."

Rouson, a Democrat, was joined by a handful of other Democrats, as well as former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who offered his support, saying it should be a bipartisan priority.

"It is not a partisan issue. It's a non-partisan issue. It's a people issue," said Crist, who works for the same law firm as Rouson. "This is about a fundamental exercise of democracy in our state, and the people having the opportunity to exercise their right to vote."

Crist became an independent two years ago in an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate against Republican Marco Rubio. There is speculation he will become a Democrat and challenge sitting Republican Gov. Rick Scott two years from now.

As he has previously, Crist ducked questions about whether he is considering another run for governor.

Crist and Rouson join a growing chorus calling for elections reform. Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said she will seek reforms, and groups like the League of Women Voters and the AFL-CIO say they will push for a major overhaul of the laws, including expanding the number of early voting days.

Many of the problems that surfaced during the election were predicted by Democratic lawmakers when the Legislature passed HB 1355, enacting a slew of voting changes, including new rules for voter registration drives and changes to early voting.

Scott's chief of elections, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, has said that the length of the ballot and the lack of sufficient early voting sites is what caused the chaos on Election Day. But both he and Scott, while only recently acknowledging that there were problems, have been reluctant to commit to any specific fixes.

Detzner met with the executive board of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections on Wednesday. They recommended limiting the length of the ballot and giving supervisors greater power in choosing early voting sites, but they did not recommend expanding the period for early voting.

Detzner said he won't recommend changes until he listens to more people and groups.

"It's a little premature for me to say what we're going to address," he said after the 90-minute meeting. "It's important to step back and go into a fact-finding mode and make the right kind of recommendations."

Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau staff writer Toluse Olorunnipa contributed to this report.

Comments
As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

Lys Isma was born in Haiti, but she’s used to driving in Miami with a license, going to college and living without fear of being deported.The Florida International University biology student has lived in Florida since she was 9 months old. Undocument...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Top Trump staffers failed to file financial reports on their way out the door

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top aides — including chief of staff Reince Priebus and foreign policy adviser Sebastian Gorka — failed to file legally required financial reports after they were dismissed this summer, according to government re...
Updated: 3 hours ago
William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

It’s an old joke that Florida’s lieutenant governor, with no duties specified in the state Constitution except to fill in if the governor is disabled or dies, has little to do except monitor the governor’s health. State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Associated PressPALM BEACH — President Donald Trump started off his first day of Thanksgiving vacation by resuming his taunts of the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in China, saying Wednesday that he was an "ungrateful foo...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

WASHINGTON — Silent for more than a week, President Donald Trump all but endorsed embattled Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, discounting the sexual assault allegations against him and insisting repeatedly that voters must not support Moor...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to offer support to Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, saying the former state judge "totally denies" allegations that he sexually molested underage girls years ago."He d...
Published: 11/21/17
Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott’s tourism chiefs at Visit Florida spend a lot of public money taking trips to exotic places to promote Florida as a top worldwide destination.Four former top-level staff members at the state’s tourism promotion and its c...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A second woman has accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching.Lindsay Menz tells CNN that Franken placed his hand on her bottom as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, two years into Fran...
Published: 11/20/17
Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

TAMPA — A week ahead of the expected vote on a controversial tax reform bill, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., visited Tampa to deliver a message to small businesses: This bill will hurt you."Small businesses are the economic engine of F...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17
As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said Sunday that the White House is willing to remove a contentious provision taking aim at the Affordable Care Act from the GOP tax overhaul plan if politically necessary, a move ...
Published: 11/19/17