Wednesday, June 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: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18