Florida governor orders review of election laws after voting snafus

TALLAHASSEE, Florida Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:04pm EST

Florida Governor Rick Scott (C) speaks during a news conference as Tropical Storm Issac approaches the state amid final preparations for the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida August 26, 2012. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Florida Governor Rick Scott (C) speaks during a news conference as Tropical Storm Issac approaches the state amid final preparations for the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida August 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Skipper

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - Florida Governor Rick Scott ordered his top elections official on Wednesday to figure out what caused long lines at polling stations and delays in ballot counting in the battleground state on Election Day.

A week after Florida again made headlines for an election fiasco that forced voters to wait hours to cast ballots after polls closed and caused long delays in counting votes, Scott urged lawmakers to review recent changes to state election laws that critics say contributed to the problems.

"Floridians should not have to wait several days for the results of a major presidential election to be tabulated because of the delays in a few counties when the majority of counties, including major metropolitan areas, have been counted," Scott said in a statement.

Scott, a Republican, has faced intense criticism over the delays and long lines.

Last year, Scott backed a law passed by Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature that reduced the number of early voting days and put in place restrictions making it harder to register voters.

Democrats and voting rights groups criticized the law, arguing it unfairly targeted Democrats and specifically minorities who disproportionately voted early.

The result of the reduced early voting was long lines that stretched around blocks and lasted for hours in parts of Florida.

Advocacy groups, led by the Florida League of Women Voters, have called for the changes to be rolled back.

The governor said the state's top elections official, Secretary of State Kenneth Detzner, will focus on problems that plagued Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties.

Each of the counties experienced delays reporting voting results.

Scott also said the voting law should be addressed in the upcoming legislative session, which begins in March.

"We encourage legislators to have a bipartisan, open and vigorous discussion about what changes need to be made to current Florida election law," Scott said.

The governor's comments come as Democrats began putting forward their own reform proposals and Republican legislative leaders also called for another review of state election laws.

"The effectiveness and fairness of the laws governing our elections have been brought into question by the past election," Rep. Darryl Rouson, a Democrat, said in a statement. "Our Legislature should not be a prisoner to its own laws."

Incoming Republican House Speaker Will Weatherford said the election law passed last year may have contributed to the problems, but that it was too early to tell.

He rejected assertions the changes were intended to blunt turnout in Florida by supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama.

"It's not a good thing when it's Friday, three days after the election, and every state in the country is either red or blue (except) there is one that is yellow because they haven't counted the votes," Weatherford said.

"That is something we should be embarrassed by," he added.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and Stacey Joyce)

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Comments (4)
reginab wrote:
I am ashamed. Is this really happening? Get over it already and let’s work together to fix this country.

Nov 14, 2012 7:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Robert76 wrote:
Who is this Governor trying to kid? His Republican state House shortened early voting, and there were even reports of closing polls for hours because there “were too many voters in line.” If there were that many voters, should they not have not only kept the polls open and called in help if needed to deal with the large number of voters.

This is a problem of their making. It should not take much of a review to find out what the problem was.

Once again we find that Florida Government (Republican) has a hard time running a fair election.

Nov 14, 2012 9:18pm EST  --  Report as abuse
fromthecenter wrote:
What the state of florida should do is start looking for a new governor. How in the world did they elect a guy that bilked millions from medicare illegally anyway?

Nov 14, 2012 10:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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