We are dedicated to the protection of voting rights for all citizens and salute Gov. Rick Scott's acknowledgement that Florida's election system needs significant reform.
Based on our research and analysis, along with our communications with thousands of voters throughout the state via our 2012 Voter Hotline, our voter registration efforts, our speakers' bureau and our other voter-protection activities, the League of Women Voters of Florida has identified five priorities:
Improve the early-voting process
Modernize Florida's voter-registration system
Reform the absentee-ballot process
Restrict the length of constitutional ballot amendment summaries
Address mobility and safety concerns for voters who are disabled or elderly
These priorities can be addressed through the following recommendations for specific action:
Create a schedule for general elections as well as their related primaries that provides sufficient time for early voting, so that no Floridian is forced to stand in long lines in order to vote.
Provide a minimum of nine days for early voting, with an option to extend to 14 days. The early-voting period should include at least two weekends and at least two weekdays with extended access of 12 hours or more.
Allow supervisors of elections the ability to select early voting sites in each county consistent with the procedure used to select Election Day polling sites.
Restore the prior protocol that allowed voters to update their address at the polls on Election Day and still cast a regular ballot.
Develop an online voter-registration system to supplement the current, paper-based system.
Create a uniform and timely process for notifying voters if their absentee ballot has been accepted or rejected, and provide a window of opportunity to allow voters whose absentee ballots have been rejected a remedy for ensuring they are not unduly disenfranchised.
Address mobility and safety concerns for voters who are disabled or elderly and provide an expedited process to allow them to vote without having to wait in line.
Require legislatively proposed constitutional amendments be held to the same standards for clarity and concision as citizens' initiatives, including limiting ballot summaries to 75 words or less.
Early-voting restrictions, an outdated voter-registration system and a lengthy ballot all coalesced to create excessive lines, delays in the counting of ballots and a significant number of disenfranchised voters in 2012. In order to help prevent such problems in the future, the League of Women Voters of Florida has identified the specific recommendations outlined above for election reform. It is imperative that the state move quickly to address Florida's electoral system and institute these reforms, which will help ensure that future elections run smoothly.