Last year, the Republican-led Florida legislature slashed the state’s early voting period in half and cut out voting on the final Sunday before the election — a day when many African American churches turned out parishioners in high numbers. As a result, long lines were the norm for Floridians this year; some even had to wait six hours or more to vote.
After witnessing the negative effects of reducing early voting from 14 days to 8, a number of state lawmakers have introduced legislation to restore those days that had been axed.
State Sens. Arthenia Joyner (D) and Gwen Margolis (D) have pre-filed two bills, SB 80 and SB 82, that would re-institute 14 days of early voting in Florida, beginning on the 15th day before an election and continuing through the Sunday prior to Election Day.
The News Service of Florida has more:
More voting hours also could be available under the bills. Current law requires at least six hours of voting per day, while the bills would require 12 hours per weekday and 12 hours total on the weekend.
In another change proposed by Joyner and Margolis, local supervisors of elections could expand the types of places where early voting is allowed. Currently, supervisors must offer early voting in the supervisor’s offices, and can allow voting in libraries and city halls. The bills would allow supervisors, if they want, to also offer early voting in other government facilities such as a courthouse, as well as colleges, churches, or community centers. The bills would also prevent counties from reducing the number of early voting sites from what they used in 2008.
Though Republicans control both chambers of the legislature, both incoming Senate President Don Gaetz (R) and incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford (R) have “promised that lawmakers will try to figure out what went wrong on Election Day that led to the long lines, and do something about it.”