While House representatives were voting on the Florida Election Code late Tuesday afternoon, a crowd of protestors rallied on the steps outside the old Capital building blasting a flawed 2012 election, with songs, signs and plenty of speeches.
The Tallahassee event was part of Awake the State — Free the Vote grassroots rallies in 23 Florida communities, with appearances by four Democratic senators: Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale, Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth, Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens and Dwight Bullard of Miami. Other speakers included Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, students and representatives of the Dream Defenders, Florida NOW, the AFL-CIO and other groups.
“The point is to send a clear message to the Legislature that we want to see meaningful election reform during the legislative session,” said Damien Filer, of Progress Florida, organizers of Awake the State.
“The sad thing is that what we’re really asking for here with most of these provisions is just to go back to the things were,” he said. “We’re not asking for anything new. We’re just asking them to undo the damage they did in 2011.”
Three key points, organizers said are 1) Expanding the number of early voting days back to 14 and allowing 12 hours per day while giving election supervisors more flexibility in opening new polling locations. 2) Reinstitute the 75-word cap on constitutional amendments proposed by the legislature, just as citizen-led initiatives are capped. 3) Voters should be able to update their voter registration address on Election Day if they move from one county to another, just as they could prior to 2011.
Voting changes passed two years ago reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight and eliminated early voting on the Sunday before the general election. It also kept voters who have moved from one county to another from changing their addresses at the polls, which had a big impact on college students.