REPUBLICANS FROM FLORIDA OPPOSE TO ELECTION REFORM BEFORE GOV. BUSH RE-ELECTION.greenspun.com : LUSENET : Gore 2004 : One Thread
Republicans resist funding ELECTION REFORM
"MOST OF THE PROBLEMS OCCURRED IN MINORITY DISTRICTS AND DEMOCRATIC PRECINCTS, SE WE'RE CONCERNED THE REPUBLICANS DON'T HAVE THE SAME INCENTIVE TO FIX THE PROCESS BEFORE 2002"
"CHANGES COULD BENEFIT DEMOCRATS AND WORK AGAINST THE REELECTION OF GOV. JEB BUSH".
By Mary Ellen Klas, Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau Friday, 2001
TALLAHASSEE -- On the eve of a report from the governor's task force on revamping Florida's voting systems, Democratic legislators Thursday blasted Republicans for being reluctant to pay for the changes.
Led by lawmakers from Palm Beach County, House and Senate Democrats criticized Republicans for recent remarks that indicate they are unwilling to help counties replace the punch-card ballot machines because the changes could benefit Democrats and work against the reelection of Gov. Jeb Bush.
"Most of the problems occurred in minority districts and Democratic precincts, so we're concerned the Republicans don't have the same incentive to fix the process before the 2002 election," said Rep. Lois Frankel, the House Democratic leader from of West Palm Beach.
Sen. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, said that in the past Republicans have supported election reforms that looked good but were superficial. This year, he challenged his Republican colleagues to adopt meaningful reforms endorsed by the task force.
Anything else, said Sen. Tom Rossin, the Senate Democratic leader from West Palm Beach, is an "an attempt to discard votes and disenfranchise voters."
Republicans responded angrily, saying the Democrats' criticism was premature and that Democrats wanted to solve the problem by "dumping" money into counties dominated by the Democrats.
"I'm sure most of them are making political points back home, since Palm Beach and Broward counties would likely get most of the money under their proposal," said Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, House majority leader. He said the legislature will review the task-force report and then decide what to do.
"Obviously, we will address the problems associated with punch-card ballots, and the state should play a role in helping counties update their systems," Fasano said. "But, the entire state should not be penalized because some counties have not adequately invested in their voting systems."
The Governor's Task Force on Election Reform releases its draft report today and will vote on it in a final conference call on Monday.
The panel, consisting of 11 Republicans, 11 Democrats and one independent, will recommend the state move by the 2002 election to an optical-scanning voting system in which votes are counted at each precinct. This would require leasing equipment for the 26 counties using the punch-card system and the 15 counties using central-count scanners. The estimated cost is $20 million to $31 million.
Democrats also criticized Secretary of State Katherine Harris for submitting a proposal to the legislature that calls for $200 million to implement a touch-screen voting system by 2004.
"Now we find ourselves sandwiched between a secretary of state budget proposal -- which in this state seems unrealistic -- and the budget cutters in the House," Frankel said.
Meanwhile, Rossin asked the legislature's auditing committee to investigate the company hired by the secretary of state's office to purge voter files of convicted felons but which erroneously removed many innocent voters. He called it an "unmitigated disaster that wasted millions of Florida's dollars."
The governor's task force on election-law reform is recommending changes to Florida's election laws, including:
- Requiring an automatic manual recount of overvotes and undervotes when the margin of victory is 0.25 percent or less;
- Increasing education for voters and poll workers;
- Posting a Voters' Bill of Rights at polling sites;
- Banning the secretary of state and supervisors of elections from being involved in any political campaign or running with a party affiliation.
-- C. White (CADECAS50@HOTMAIL.COM), April 03, 2001