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Nov 1, 2012
Out of respect for the rights of all Floridians to vote, I have asked Governor Scott to issue an Executive Order expanding the Early Voting period to include Sunday, November 4.
When he signed House Bill 1355 earlier this year, Scott shortened the early voting period from 2008 levels by nearly a week; and by as much as 72 hours in some parts of our State. Today the result of that action is seen in the longest voting lines that many Floridians have ever had to endure. In parts of Florida many citizens – including veterans and seniors – are forced to wait for as many as 5 hours to simply express the most fundamental right guaranteed to them in a democracy. In my own City of Miami Beach, an elderly African American women passed out in front of city hall after waiting in excess of an hour in the hot sun. An ambulance took her away.
Is that what they envisioned when Scott and the Legislature lengthened the ballot and shortened early voting? I recognize that their actions were motivated by rank political ambitions. Early voters tend to lean Democratic so making it harder for them to vote can help tilt the election the other way. But did they really want our citizens to suffer when so many patriots have fought and died to protect the very right that they exploit for unfair, partisan gain?
Is there even a modicum of shame left in Tallahassee?
Both of Scott’s predecessors, Governor Crist and Governor Bush, when confronted with a voting system unable to adequately process voter turnout, issued executive orders expanding the time period for voting. In the last Presidential Election, Governor Crist saw the long lines and hardship and expanded early voting to 120 hours. Both Governors, Republicans, did not try to divine what candidate or party they were helping, they simply believed it was unfair to their constituents and ran afoul of our shared democratic values.
Of course this year the absurdly long ballot and decreased early voting hours and days has created even greater dislocation at Florida’s polls than confronted Governor Crist. While another full day of early voting won’t solve this problem, it will certainly improve the situation and give weekend voters 12 additional hours to vote.
Governor Scott needs to act on behalf of all Floridians who seek simply to exercise their right to vote and issue an Executive Order expanding the Early Voting period to include Sunday, November 4.
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Sen. Gelber debates against two amendments to HB 1143 that took aim at a woman's right to privacy
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