In a rare case of apparently doing the right thing, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida has signed into law a bill that reverses most of the changes made after he came into office that made it more difficult to register and vote in that state, causing long lines and chaos on election day.
Monday he signed a bill that reinstates many of the 2012 reductions the conservative Florida legislature pushed through before the election.
The new bill extends early voting from 8 days to 14, extends early voting hours from 8 to 12 hours a day, and expands polling places to include courthouses, civic centers, stadiums, convention centers, fairgrounds and government-owned senior and community centers to keep up with crowds.
It also seeks to make ballot length more manageable by restricting constitutional amendments to a maximum of 75 words, and loosens some of the restrictions on when voters have to file provisional ballots.
It also permits county supervisors to hold early voting on the Sunday before the election, “respecting the ‘souls to the polls’ tradition of many black churches,” as reported by the Florida Current.
The bill moves back Florida’s primary elections from January to the first Tuesday allowed by Democratic and Republican National Committees to avoid penalties.
And lastly, the bill imposes $25,000 fines for failing to fix voting machines, something that reportedly snarled elections in Palm Beach County, according to the Sun Sentinel.
“Sometimes it felt like climbing a mountain with concrete boots,” said Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, “but with the governor’s signature on this election reform package, Florida has achieved what many of us thought at one time might be impossible: a huge improvement to our democratic process and a giant step forward for Florida voters.”
I’d like to see this spread, but I doubt it will. Maybe in Ohio, where Gov. John Kasich seems to have backed down from the more extreme policies he championed early in his term, like Scott has begun to do in some cases.