Elections supervisors stunned by last-minute ‘attack’by Dara Kam | April 16th, 2013
The appointed secretary of state would have the authority to decide if elections supervisors are “non-compliant” and force them to take additional training under a last-minute provision included in a sweeping elections bill by the Senate this morning.
Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, sponsored the late-filed amendment to give the secretary of state “a little more clout” over the local officials.
“It’s more symbolic than anything else, but it’s an important message to send I believe,” said Diaz de la Portilla, who has been an outspoken critic of Miami-Dade County’s elections and is the sponsor of the controversial 2011 HB 1355 that shrank the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. Many critics believe the shorter number of days contributed to the long lines encountered by voters in counties with large populations, including Palm Beach.
Looking on from the public gallery, the 22-18 vote in favor of Diaz de la Portilla’s amendment stunned several supervisors, including the Florida State Association of State Elections Supervisors President Vicki Davis of Martin County.
Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards, a former state representative, called the last-minute amendment a “typical inside Tallahassee backroom deal.”
And Pasco County elections supervisor Brian Corley, who minutes before had been tweeting praise of the bill, called the idea that a “politically appointed Tallahassee bureaucrat” could put local elections officials on “super secret probation” insulting.
The House approved its version of the elections changes (HB 7013) on the first day of the legislative session. The Senate could vote in its version as early as next week, and could add more changes.