Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

U.S. Senate panel holds Tampa hearing on Florida election law

TALLAHASSEE — Two Democratic U.S. senators will hold a hearing in Tampa today to focus on what they say are problems with Florida election laws, and the timing and location are no coincidence.

The hearing, four days before Florida Republicans state their preference for a presidential candidate, will be in Hillsborough County, the largest of five Florida counties that remain under federal jurisdiction when changes are made to the state's election laws.

Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida will accompany Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

They will take several hours of testimony on the 2011 state law that revamped Florida's voting machinery by reducing the days of early voting, requiring third-party voter registration groups to register with the state and subjecting them to fines if they fail to submit voter forms within 48 hours.

A fourth section of the law requires voters to cast provisional ballots if they have moved from one Florida county to another since they last voted.

All four changes are under review by a panel of three federal judges and are not yet in effect in Hillsborough, Monroe, Collier, Hardee and Hendry counties.

Republican lawmakers who pressed for the law say it was necessary to bolster public confidence in election laws and reduce fraud. Democrats say the state has had virtually no voter fraud in recent years and call the changes an act of "voter suppression" by the GOP to make it more difficult for college students and minority voters to vote.

Witnesses will include Election Supervisors Michael Ertel in Seminole County and Ann McFall in Volusia County; former Secretary of State Bruce Smathers, a Democrat; and Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political scientist who has been a critic of the new law.

The hearing begins at 1 p.m. in Courtroom No. 1 in the Hillsborough County Courthouse, 800 E. Twiggs St., Tampa.

U.S. Senate panel holds Tampa hearing on Florida election law 01/26/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jordan Spieth wins British Open


    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to usher in a new era of golf.

    Jordan Spieth, left, stands on a mound to look at his ball on the 13th hole after hitting onto the driving range.
  2. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  3. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  4. Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria heads back to the dugout after fouling out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first.
  5. White House signals acceptance of Russia sanctions bill


    WASHINGTON — The White House indicated Sunday that President Donald Trump would accept new legislation imposing sanctions on Russia and curtailing his authority to lift them on his own, a striking turnaround after a broad revolt in Congress by lawmakers of both parties who distrusted his friendly approach to …

    President Donald Trump’s ability to lift sanctions against Russia would be blocked.