Democratic voter expansion project moves to Florida

The website includes Florida guidelines and information for the Nov. 4 election, but not the Aug. 26 primary.
The website includes Florida guidelines and information for the Nov. 4 election, but not the Aug. 26 primary.
Published July 16, 2014

The Democratic National Committee's nationwide voter expansion project is headed to Florida.

The DNC says it plans to build a "new permanent infrastructure for the Democratic Party and its candidates" in key states, and hired Zach Learner, a Broward lawyer.

Learner, 33, is a 2008 University of Miami law school graduate who until last month was chief of staff for Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, a candidate for a Florida House seat. He worked on voter protection efforts in both of President Barack Obama's campaigns in Florida and for three years (2009-12) was a legislative aide to Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood.

The DNC says the goal of the project is to create more access and more voters and protect the vote by "breaking down barriers, demystifying the process and making sure every vote counts." The DNC release claimed that Democrats support greater voter participation while Republicans have adopted a "cynical national strategy to decrease participation."

A website,, features state-by-state voter registration information, but its Florida page provides timetables and other details for the Nov. 4 general election only, not the statewide primary election on Aug. 26. The site also does not highlight a significant change to Florida's voting laws that will be in place for the first time this cycle — and is not yet well-known: A voter who asks that an absentee ballot be mailed to an address other than the one on file at the elections office must make the request in writing, not online or by phone as previously permitted.

That change, enacted by the Legislature in 2013, exempts active-duty military personnel and could disproportionately affect college students and seasonal residents. It was one of many changes to voting laws in HB 7013, approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

The bill revised Florida's voting calendar to require at least eight days and a maximum of 14 days of early voting and allows early voting at more types of buildings including "fairgrounds, civic centers, courthouses, county commission buildings, stadiums, convention centers, government owned senior centers and government owned community centers," in addition to elections offices, city halls and libraries.

Jeb Bush keeps visibility high

Jeb Bush waded into New Hampshire politics on Monday, via Boston.

The former Florida governor attended a fundraiser for Scott Brown, who is challenging Granite State Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Bush tweeted a photo of himself and Brown, who was joined by family members. "Proud to support his campaign for U.S. Senate! #nhpolitics," Bush wrote.

Bush, who is mulling a run for president in 2016, continues to make the travel rounds and has now backed candidates in a number of key states. Also Monday, it was announced that Bush will be a headline speaker, along with Jay Leno, at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention in January in San Francisco.

Nan Rich knocking in the mail

A political committee formed by Democratic candidate for governor Nan Rich has dropped its first mail piece, blasting Charlie Crist for his refusal to debate her. The mailing was financed by a political committee supported by unions, trial lawyers and Tallahassee lobbyists, who donated long before Crist entered the race.

Rich's statewide mailer is a reprint of a June 23 editorial in the Miami Herald and highlights key passages in yellow: "So what is Mr. Crist afraid of? Or is it arrogance? His refusal to debate the former legislator is unseemly and exclusionary. Of course, it's politics at its worst."

The heavy cardboard stock and typeface resemble earlier pro-Rich mail pieces financed by the mystery group Progressive Choice Florida, which refuses to disclose details on donors.