Thursday, December 14, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: New voting rules flawed, but better

Despite their flaws, the voting reforms expected to be approved this week by the Florida Senate are a substantial improvement over current state law. Republican leaders have failed to deliver on the reasonable expectation that the state would return to a full 14 days of early voting. And a proposal to let the unelected secretary of state discipline the elected county elections supervisors should be abandoned. But the Senate legislation is more comprehensive than the House's proposal, and it would undo much of the harm of the 2011 elections law that precipitated last November's Election Day debacle.

The Senate plan, authored by Republican Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater, would make several commonsense changes. It would expand the sites available for early voting and limit, with a caveat, constitutional amendments written by the Legislature to just 75 words. It would improve the chances that voters' ballots will actually get counted. Voters who forget to sign the back of their absentee ballot envelopes would have a chance to remedy the problem until the Sunday before the election. And fewer voters on Election Day would be handed provisional ballots, which are far less likely to be counted.

To finally address the inherent security issues with absentee ballots — long ignored by Republicans even as they pursued alleged fraud at polling places — the Senate bill would require voters seeking to have an absentee ballot mailed to an address other than their home to submit a signed request. (The requirement would be waived for overseas ballots and military personnel.) And it would prohibit paid political operatives from collecting more than two absentee ballots from non-family members. Both provisions are a direct response to ongoing 2012 elections fraud investigations in South Florida.

Neither House nor Senate leaders, however, are willing to fully restore early voting to 14 days — including the Sunday before an election. Both chambers would require just eight days of early voting. But county elections supervisors would have the discretion to expand that up to 14 days, including the Sunday before an election. That would mean some Floridians would have dramatically less access to voting than others.

Lawmakers also refuse to retreat from another provision in the 2011 law that prevents voters from changing their address at the polls if they have moved to a new county. That pointlessly disenfranchises legal voters.

All in all, the Senate plan will do more to ensure voters' ballots are counted than the status quo, but it remains inadequate in a state that was the laughingstock of the nation just six months ago. Voters in the 2014 election can let legislators know what they think of their response.

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Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

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Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

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Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

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Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

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Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

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Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17