Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Politics

Gov. Rick Scott, fix this voting problem now, not later

Four days before the start of early voting and the six-hour lines that made Florida a target of national outrage, Gov. Rick Scott got a heads-up.

At a news conference in the governor's Capitol office, Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael Van Sickler posed a prescient question: "If there are complications with the long ballot and long lines, is there any possibility that you would extend the early voting period so more people could vote?"

Replied Scott: "No one has come to me and told me that's an issue yet. I think everything you do in this job, you look and if there's a problem, you try to solve it."

Governor, you have a problem. Let's see you solve it.

This is Scott's biggest controversy since he was elected two years ago.

His slogan, "Let's Get to Work," suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

Scott could have extended early voting. He didn't. Now he must suffer the consequences as he ramps up his own bid for re-election in 2014 and asks the people of Florida for four more years.

Before the presidential election, Democrats were smelling blood over Scott's low job approval ratings. Now that President Barack Obama has won Florida for a second time and Republicans are demoralized, Democrats are casting Scott as the King of Voter Suppression.

A coalition of labor unions, liberal advocacy groups and Democratic legislators on Monday decried the Florida situation as a "disgrace to democracy," and called for a return to 14 days of early voting and repealing the expansion of the use of provisional ballots.

The speakers included the Rev. Bartholomew Banks of St. John's Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa.

"It's a travesty," he said. "The fact that people have to stand in line for hours to vote is unacceptable in this country."

The level of public outrage and intensity of national news coverage is such that Scott needs to act fast.

The governor who insists that voters hold him accountable for his actions could act swiftly and decisively by acknowledging his own role in the electoral chaos in signing a 2011 elections bill; apologize to people who stood in line for six hours; form a bipartisan task force to suggest reforms; insist that the state go back to the 14-day early voting period; and give counties flexibility to choose early voting sites and not be hamstrung by the few dictated by the Legislature.

County supervisors of election for years have asked for more flexibility in early voting sites, limited by law to their offices, city halls and libraries. They will renew the request when they meet with Scott's top elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, on Wednesday afternoon.

"We want to look at the effects of House Bill 1355 on this election," says Vicki Davis, supervisor of elections in Martin County and leader of the supervisors' group. After reviewing the drop in early voting in her own county, she said of the eight-day, 96-hour early voting schedule: "It's not enough."

Not enough, Governor.

Florida is a better place than the one portrayed on TV the past week. As the state's elected leader, Scott should lead the charge for change.

What happened was so unnecessary.

Take an election supervisor at her word.

Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election charged an attorney Tuesday with lying to federal investigators about his interactions with a former Trump campaign official. A charging document filed in federa...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina man with a felony conviction for indecent liberties with a child was one-half of the poster couple for a new "Trump Dating" website.News outlets reported Monday that visitors to the dating site geared toward suppor...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

The 2017 St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race was celebrated as more than a competitive regatta to Cuba’s capital city of Havana.The relaunch of the maritime competition cancelled since 1959 was hailed as a reflection of the detente started under Preside...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Published: 02/19/18
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Published: 02/19/18
For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

The White House was under siege.Domestic abuse allegations against a senior aide were ignored, pointing to a potential high-level coverup. Two Cabinet secretaries were caught chargin taxpayers for luxury travel. A Playboy centerfold alleged an extram...
Published: 02/19/18
President Trump expresses support for senators’ gun bill

President Trump expresses support for senators’ gun bill

President Donald Trump signaled support for one piece of gun control legislation on Monday, five days after a mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead and scores injured."The president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal...
Published: 02/19/18
Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

One of the quotes from the 2016 presidential campaign that has stuck with me came from an unidentified Donald Trump supporter who shared his appraisal of the "Access Hollywood" tape on an episode of Showtime’s "The Circus."Having heard Trump boast on...
Published: 02/18/18
Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

PARKLAND, Fla. — Students who escaped the deadly school shooting in Florida focused their anger Sunday at President Donald Trump, contending that his response to the attack has been needlessly divisive. "You're the president. You're supposed t...
Published: 02/18/18
Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

MUNICH — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Saturday there was "incontrovertible" evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election, a blunt statement that shows how significantly the new criminal charges leveled by an...
Published: 02/17/18