It seems Florida will once again be making changes to its election law: the Senate passed HB 7013 that Governor Rick Scott has indicated he will sign.
The bill counteracts much of the 2011 law that truncated early voting, changed provisional ballot rules, and stiffened rules on voter registration. These changes–combined with record turnout and a particularly lengthy ballot–meant that some Floridians waited in line six hours to vote on November 6th. HB 7013 seeks to improve the election experience by:
- Increasing the number of early voting days and the hours allowed each day. Supervisors of elections must offer at least 64 hours of early voting over the course of 8 days, with a minimum of 8 hours each day, but may offer up to 168 hours over 14 days, with 12 hours each day–allowing once again for the possibility of Souls to the Polls on the Sunday before Election Day.
- Expanding possible early voting locations. Elections supervisors may now hold early voting at civic centers, convention centers, county commission buildings courthouses, fairgrounds, and government-owned community centers, and government-owned senior centers. Currently, early voting can only be held at supervisors’ offices, city halls, or public libraries.
- Allowing new county residents to change their addresses at the polls on Election Day and vote by regular ballots rather than provisional ballots.
- Allowing absentee voters who forget to sign a ballot to correct their mistake. Thousands of unsigned ballots were invalidated in 2012.
- Limiting Legislature-proposed amendment ballot summaries to 75 words or less. (The word limit can be exceeded if summaries need to be rewritten because the Supreme Court strikes them down for being misleading.)
If signed by Governor Scott, the law will take effect January 1, 2014 and applying these changes ahead of the next midterm election.