Florida Democrats look for substantial reforms following state's election mess

5:18 PM, Dec 5, 2012   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - Democrats in the Florida House say they're tired of hearing the jokes about Florida's ability, or inability, to run elections.

House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston and Rep. Janet Cruz say they will push for significant reforms in Florida's new election law, including the provision that reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to 8.

Rep. Cruz says she considers 14 days of early voting and expanded voting hours a non-negotiable position in any election reform legislation.

"Toward that end, as House Democrats we will, if necessary, present our own substantial election reform legislation. Of course, we're hopeful that the House will develop a bipartisan legislation that addresses the real problems, that addresses the issues of those long waiting lines and voter suppression."

Democrats applaud Secretary of State Ken Detzner for launching an investigation of the five counties that had the most serious voting problems, but Rep. Cruz says it's not enough.

"But in no way is this actually sufficient. We think the Legislature should through the committee process needs to rapidly and thoroughly what happened this election cycle. We should strive to keep Florida elections from always being the butt of late-night television shows."

Detzner will start his election probe in Hillsborough County next week, not because he thinks the county performed poorly in the election, but because he considers it a benchmark for the way things ought to run.

Asked if she agrees with Detzner's praise for Hillsborough County based on what she saw during the election, Rep. Cruz said, "I spent a lot of time at the early voting sites and it was kind of sporadic. There would be one site that had a two-hour wait but yet a mile-and-a-half away there was another early voting site that had no waiting and no lines. So I think Hillsborough County did a good job but it's not good enough."

Dave Heller

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