The latest summary of the changes proposed in Senate Bill 956 is:
- Expressly providing that the Florida Election Code preempts any local provision regarding elections unless otherwise specifically provided by law.
- A substantial revision to third party voter registration organization requirements.
- The removal of retirement center identification and neighborhood association identification from the list of identifications that may be used at the polls or by certain first time voters.
- Prohibiting persons or groups from soliciting voters within 100 feet of the line in which voters are standing to enter a polling place or early voting site. Authorizing leadership funds.
- Requiring marksense ballots to be printed by precinct.
- Allowing an overseas voter to request, receive, or return an absentee ballot or ballot materials by electronic transmission, including e-mail or fax, if the Department of State can establish the security of the transmission.
- Revising the times when the Election Canvassing Commission must meet to certify an election to 9 a.m. on the 9th day after a primary election and 9 a.m. on the 14th day after a general election. Requiring supervisors of elections to be elected on a non-partisan basis.
- Provisions regulating paid petition circulators, including registration and the invalidation of petitions not in compliance with the act as well as offering a voter another opportunity to sign a petition to replace the one that is invalidated.
Whatever you think of the other proposed changes (and there are many articles regarding that, including a potential veto), the preemption of local authority to the state jumps out as an issue not mentioned in most articles. The past election cycle included several disputes between state and county officials regarding election law interpretation and this proposal appears to be an attempt to move away from local control. I’ve also not seen any discussion of whether the U.S. Dept. of Justice would preclear these kind of changes – although preclearance under the Voting Rights Act is itself presently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.