By GARY FINEOUT
TALLAHASSEE – Despite the fervent opposition of the state’s top election official, the Florida Legislature on Wednesday called for the creation of a statewide system that allows voters to register online.
Legislators approved a bill authorizing the system and sent it to Gov. Rick Scott, who may veto the legislation.
That’s because Secretary of State Ken Detzner – who works for Scott – has already spoken out strongly against the new system which is supported by county election supervisors.
Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat and one of the prime sponsors of the bill, said Florida should have little problem following the 20 other states that already allow online voting registration.
He called the current system “archaic” since voters are required to get a form, fill it out and mail it to election officials. The form is available online, but it can’t be turned in that way.
“That makes no sense whatsoever,” Clemens said.
The Senate approved the bill by a 37-3 vote. It had previously been approved by the Florida House by a 109-9 vote.
Detzner testified against the bill before legislative committees. He warned that he wasn’t sure that the state could put the system in place by the October 2017 deadline and suggested that it could be hacked or tampered with by “the forces of evil.”
Republican and Democratic legislators, however, brushed aside the
criticism and pointed out how they delayed the deadline for the system until after the 2016 elections at Detzner’s urging. The final bill also calls for a “risk assessment” by state technology officials before the system goes live.
There has been speculation that Detzner is now opposed to the measure because there’s a chance that Scott may run for U.S. Senate in 2018. But Detzner insisted that he was not told to oppose the bill by the governor’s office.
Clemens said he remained “hopeful” that Scott would sign the bill into law. He noted that it picked up support from legislators in both parties and he predicted Republicans and Democrats will be able to use it to register new voters.
“I think we have done a good job of answering every concern about this along the way,” Clemens said.