Tuesday, April 24, 2018
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: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18