Saturday, May 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Another attempt to make voting harder

Once again Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner is carrying out Gov. Rick Scott's mission to make it harder to vote. With little explanation, Detzner told the state's election supervisors this week to eliminate all absentee ballot dropoff sites except for their offices. This is no more defensible than the administration's continuing misguided effort to purge the voting roll of noncitizens, and election supervisors should ignore Detzner's latest demand.

The new restrictions regarding absentee ballots have gone over like a hanging chad among many of the state's 67 election supervisors, all of whom are elected officials except in Miami-Dade County. They were not consulted about the change, and Detzner's argument that restricting ballot dropoffs to supervisors' offices ensures statewide uniformity in voting procedures is a weak rationale for making voting more inconvenient.

It's also inconsistent. Detzner didn't have a problem with nonuniformity during the 2012 election. Now he does, and the timing happens to coincide with the special congressional election in Pinellas County to fill the seat of the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young. Detzner's move could dissuade the casual voter from participation in a low-turnout special election, which would likely favor the Republican candidate.

Pinellas has more voters who choose to mail or drop off ballots than any other county in the state. That is largely because Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark has emphasized the convenience of absentee voting. Clark had 14 dropoff sites for the 2012 election, using public libraries, tax collector branch offices and other places without a hitch. Clark said she's "very worried" about the change and how it would impact ballot accessibility.

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer used 13 public libraries as early voting and ballot dropoff sites for the 2012 election — sites that would be unavailable under Detzner's directive. Latimer says the idea that remote dropoff sites pose a security risk is nonsense considering that most people use the mail to send in their absentee ballots, a process far less tightly controlled by supervisors. During early voting last year, Hillsborough averaged 800 absentee ballot dropoffs per day, and without that option Latimer envisions far longer lines during early voting.

This is no way for Detzner to mend relations with the state's election supervisors, who are still steamed over his botched effort last year to purge noncitizens from the rolls. The list of purported noncitizens Detzner's office sent out was disproportionately minority and so sloppy and full of errors that the supervisors refused to cooperate. Still, his office has embarked on another noncitizen voter purge, and many elections supervisors remain skeptical.

Detzner's interpretation of state election law shouldn't be the final word. Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho called the directive "un-American" and intends to ignore it. He's right. Just as elections supervisors refused to go along with the Scott administration's earlier voter-suppression efforts, they should refuse to make it harder to cast absentee ballots and continue to provide reasonable dropoff sites.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18