Friday, November 17, 2017
Editorials

Iorio right leader on vote reform

RECOMMENDED READING


More than 72 hours after the polls closed, Florida still does not have complete election results for president. The debacle harkens back to the 2000 election when the state became the symbol for election incompetence — and this race is not that close and probably will not require a recount. Now the challenge is to make changes to state law to ensure that voters can cast ballots more easily and conveniently. There is no better person to lead this effort than Pam Iorio. The former three-term supervisor of elections in Hillsborough County is already pulling people together for a statewide review of elections on her own initiative. Gov. Rick Scott should welcome Iorio's involvement and formalize her task force.

Some of the most glaring problems are already evident. Long lines during early voting and on Election Day meant voters stood for up to seven hours in some precincts to cast ballots. The problems were a direct consequence of the Republican-led effort in the Legislature to reduce early voting days from a possible 14 to eight while loading the ballot with 11 densely worded constitutional amendments. The high turnout in some precincts combined with long ballots led to chaos on Election Day, with people in South Florida standing in line to vote past 1 a.m., well after the networks had pronounced President Barack Obama the winner.

Iorio is right when she says "it is time for a bipartisan solution" to Florida's election problems. She is uniquely qualified to lead this effort as a past president of the State Association of Supervisors of Elections and a former Democratic mayor of Tampa whose no-nonsense approach to good government made her popular across party lines. She has already mentioned some essential changes that the Legislature should adopt, including: standardized early voting days, hours and procedures; more early voting days; and an expansion of the locations for early voting beyond government buildings and libraries.

Iorio notes that there were 15 early voting sites in Hillsborough County while there were only three in Pinellas County. Deborah Clark, the supervisor of elections in Pinellas County, has an inexcusable track record of limiting the number of early voting sites and pushing more people to vote by mail. Yet it was the pile of last-minute absentee ballots across the state that delayed election results for days.

Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has his own warped take on the Florida elections mess. He claims the 2011 legislation he supported, which contracted early voting, did not lead to voter suppression because this year a higher percentage of voters cast a ballot before Election Day than in 2008. In fact, early voting dropped this year 9.4 percent statewide due to the shortened schedule, and absentee voting was up. With fewer days, early voting was turned into a nightmare exercise in some places, with hours-long lines. Gaetz wants an apology, but he is the one who should apologize to Floridians.

Iorio's task force should include people such as Republican Kurt Browning, a former secretary of state under Scott and a supervisor of elections in Pasco County for 26 years. This is an issue that transcends politics and ideology, and instead of suppressing the vote the governor and the Legislature should be making it easier to participate in democracy.

Comments

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17