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Legislature tries fixing law after 10 News identifies loophole preventing some servicemembers from voting

8:05 AM, Mar 13, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Following a 10 News Investigators report that drew national headlines, lawmakers in the state capital are trying to close a legal loophole that prevented dozens of active servicemembers from casting votes last fall.

In November, 10 News reported how routine maintenance of the voting rolls was removing servicemembers overseas. Because many of the voters hadn't cast a ballot or been in contact with supervisor of elections offices in four years, they were un-enrolled, as required by the law, which is designed to prevent voter fraud.

But if a military veteran requests a mail ballot prior to the election and discovers he or she has been removed from the rolls, the person is allowed to re-enroll up to five days before election day.

Non-veterans must enroll at least 29 days prior to an election, and the veteran exception does not apply to active servicemembers.

Now, State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, wants to change the law and include active servicemembers in the exception. His all-encompassing elections bill, SB 600, has coasted through its early committee assignments and could be signed into law later this spring.

"It would allow an active duty military person who is returning to combat," Latvala said of his bill, "up to 5 days before the election to actually vote."

Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has been supportive of Latvala's bill and has helped ensure its success so far.

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to noah@wtsp.com.

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