Friday, April 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Email bill undermines open government

For those weary of spam in their in-box, the idea could sound appealing: Don't let state government provide voters' email addresses to anyone. But this simple idea has far-reaching consequences that would dramatically undermine Floridians' ability to hold their government to account. Such secrecy has no place in a democracy.

The problems with HB 249 and SB 1260 are both logistical and philosophical. The plans would require any agency that holds a voter's email address to cloak the email address from public view. The exemption would create a bureaucratic nightmare in fulfilling public records requests. Just how are non-elections agencies supposed to know that [email protected] belongs to a registered voter? And the potential is also ripe for cloaking who is communicating with government officials. That is unacceptable.

Under Florida's Constitution, lawmakers must provide compelling public reasons why such information should be cloaked. The bill sponsors fail on those points, too. Their tortuous argument claims that since voters can use email to request an absentee ballot, public access to the addresses could encourage voter impersonation. Never mind, apparently, that actual cases of voter interference now being prosecuted came about because political operatives have access to the cloaked names of all voters requesting absentee ballots. Yet there has been no move to change that law.

The other flawed argument is that eventually county supervisors of elections hope to save money by sending sample ballots via email and that if email addresses are public, voters won't be willing to provide email addresses for fear they will be mined via public records requests for commercial purposes. But there are laws to prohibit that. And potential voter resistance to a government cost-cutting scheme is no reason to abandon the state's commitment to open government.

Lawmakers have crafted a solution in search of a problem. But Florida's tradition to open government is not the problem.

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Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region won’t make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Florida’s citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nation’s health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18