The Miami Herald is reporting that the requirement in Florida that voters register 29 days before an election was held to be reasonable and not imposing a severe burden on constitutional rights by a Federal Judge in Miami . The Elections Supervisors (Broward, Duval, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Palm Beach Counties) in the case previously settled the case, agreeing to pay fees and to institute a “grace period” for voter registrations if such a change were allowed by law. To date, I am not aware of any such change.
The NY Times and other sources are reporting the Florida Democratic Party has given up on the idea of a new primary before the party’s summer convention. Since the idea is still alive in Michigan, I’d be surprised if more discussion doesn’t happen, at least while the Florida Legislature is still in session. The reasons given in Florida appear to be costs, ongoing change of voting technology, and the need to preclear changes under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Since this issue is getting bipartisan attention, with the statements from the Florida and Michigan governors, I thought I’d start writing about it here. As you know, the Florida Presidential Preference Primary was moved earlier this year. As a result, the Democratic National Committee has reportedly stated the Florida vote would not count towards delegates at this summer’s convention. According to reports, the Republican National Committee will only reduce Florida’s delegate count by 50%. With the Democratic race still to be decided, the question of a new vote in Florida continues to come up in the media. This will be interesting to watch as the Presidential Preference Primary is spelled out in statute – a repeat election could cause all sorts of challenges determining what rules to apply. I’ll write more about the statutory issues as this debate goes on.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that one of the political parties mailed stamps to voters and told them to use the stamps to return their absentee ballot for the Florida House District 32 contest. The question is whether that crosses the line and constitutes a bribe under Fla. Stat. 104.061 or is of such nominal value that it does not cause a problem.
The Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections held a workshop on Wednesday to review several proposed election law changes. As covered in the Sun Sentinel, notable among these is a proposal to bar local governments from spending public money to run advertisements concerning an upcoming referendum. The bill is online at the Senate site and the workshop agenda packet is also available.
On January 28th, the State’s Division of Elections issued an opinion concerning public access to the ballot tabulating room. In short, the Division opined that canvassing boards could limit public access to the computer room used to tabulate votes as long as representatives of political parties are able to be in the tabulation room. The division added that if the canvassing board was conducting its work in a room that the public could not enter, either due to size or security, the canvassing board should “transmit the audio” from its work room to a place the public could listen in. The opinion is 08-01.