CONTACT: Mark Hollis
** Democratic Ranking Member Statement **
Rep. Janet Cruz Applauds Action on Elections Bill
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State Representative Janet Cruz, the Democratic Ranking Member on the House Ethics & Elections Subcommittee, today congratulated colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee for their favorable support this week of an elections bill that attempts to ease the voting difficulties of the November 2012 elections.
A bipartisan-backed measure headed toward a House floor vote in the upcoming 2013 legislative session allows Florida’s elections supervisors to conduct early voting from eight to 14 days for up to 12 hours per day, and it gives supervisors a broader array of early voting sites.
The plan also would impose a 75-word limit on constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the Legislature – though only for the first attempt. Additional draft summaries and those rewritten by the Attorney General at the request of the Supreme Court would be not limited.
Representative Cruz, who led Democratic negotiations with Republican leaders on the bill, succeeded in winning approval of a significant change to House Bill 7013 that would allow voters who fail to sign their absentee ballots to have their votes counted. Under current law, if a voter fails to sign their absentee ballot, their vote is automatically rejected.
The amendment presented by Representative Cruz, and accepted by the Appropriations Committee on Thursday, would allow the voter to submit an affidavit to their supervisor of elections stating that they intended to vote that ballot. If the affidavit is submitted prior to when an elections canvassing board meets, the ballot will be canvassed and counted as normal.
“This action will allow the ballots of thousands of Floridians to be counted that would otherwise be discarded,” Representative Cruz said when successfully presenting her amendment in the Appropriations Committee.
Representative Cruz today also offered this additional statement: “Florida needs more voting days, more polling locations, and for those voting sites to be properly staffed and equipped. I believe that the changes incorporated in House Bill 7013 are significant and will do a great deal to help Florida voters exercise their right to vote.”