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Activists behind Pink Slip Rick are not impressed with Gov. Rick Scott’s attempts to distance himself from the voting reforms he signed into law in 2011.
Scott called on the Florida Legislature to consider three reforms to avoid hours-long waits that dogged early voting in some counties in 2012: add more sites for early voting aside from election offices, libraries and city halls; shorten the language of proposed constitutional amendments; and increase the maximum number of early voting days from eight to 14.
Scott touted his proposal as giving Floridians "the greatest access to early voting ever in Florida history – at up to 168 hours."
But @PinkSlipRick tweeted a strikingly different take on the announcement.
"#PinkSlipRick’s proposal is so vague that it only mandates 48 hours of early voting," the tweet said.
We wondered how Pink Slip Rick, which is organized by liberal group Florida Watch Action, could have a tally so much lower from the governor’s statement.
Here’s the answer: Both sides are right.
The 2011 elections law reduced the number of days for early voting from 14 to eight, with supervisors required to offer between six and 12 hours of early voting each day instead of simply eight hours. (Here’s a related check on that.) That meant local elections supervisors had the choice to offer between 48 hours and 96 hours of early voting over eight days.
Still, most supervisors offered the maximum of 96 hours, according to an analysis by University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith. At 54 hours, Hernando County was among counties offering the smallest amount of time to vote early.
Scott is recommending a law that allows supervisors to offer between eight and 14 days of early voting and maintaining the six-to-12 hour window.
So under Scott’s proposal, supervisors would be able to provide a maximum of 168 hours of early voting (14 days multiplied by 12 hours a day). The fewest number of hours they would be required to offer for is 48 (eight days multiplied by six hours).
Scott’s proposal largely mirrors recommendations from the state supervisors of elections association.
"Our ultimate goal must be to restore Floridians' confidence in our election system," Scott said in a statement. "We need more early voting days, which should include an option of the Sunday before Election Day."
So both sides make an accurate remark about Scott’s plan, but they cherry-pick the extreme scenario to fit their interest.
Florida Watch Action executive director Amy Ritter said Scott should have restored early voting the way it was before the 2011 election law, with a minimum of 96 hours.
"Anything less than that is not a promise to restore or expand early voting," Ritter said.
We surveyed several local supervisors for how they might implement Scott’s option. In Miami-Dade County, a spokeswoman said the county would likely resume the pre-2011 law system of offering 14 days with 8 hours each day and eight total hours on the weekend, with more room to offer more hours closer to a presidential election.
In Hillsborough County, supervisor Craig Latimer said the county has always offered the maximum amount of hours for early voting, and he could see offering the hypothetical max of 168 hours in a presidential election.
"There’s got to be relief for large counties," he said.
In tiny Franklin County, home to just over 7,000 Panhandle voters, elections supervisor Ida C. Elliott said implementing the full monty of 168 hours would not be feasible, citing overtime costs for workers and a simple lack of need. But even she wouldn’t go to the minimum of 48 hours.
"48? That’s a little too...not enough," she said. "That’s crazy. You’d have to do at least your whole working day, for sure."
Pink Slip Rick’s remark is accurate but leaves out part of the story. Scott’s proposal would mandate a minimum of 48 hours, but it would also let supervisors offer a maximum of 168 hours.
Local supervisors would make the call, and the ones we spoke with said they would offer more than the bare minimum.
Still, the group is right that 48 hours would be the mandated minimum. The statement is accurate but needs clarification. We rate it Mostly True.
Pink Slip Rick website and tweet and Facebook note
Florida Watch Action website
Gov. Rick Scott statement on election reforms, Jan. 17, 2013
Interview with Amy Ritter, Florida Watch Action executive director, Jan. 21, 2013
Orlando Sentinel, "Analysis: 201,000 in Florida didn't vote because of long lines," Jan. 19, 2013
Interview with Daniel A. Smith, University of Florida political science professor, Jan. 14, 2013
Interview with Ida C. Elliott, Franklin County Supervisor of Elections, Jan. 22, 2013
Interview with Susan Gill, Citrus County Supervisor of Elections, Jan. 22, 2013
Interview with Brian Corley, Pasco County supervisor of elections, Jan. 22, 2013
Interview with Shirley Anderson, Hernando County supervisor of elections, Jan. 21, 2013
interview with Craig Latimer, Hillsborough County supervisor of elections, Jan. 22, 2013
Email interviews with Chris Cate, Department of State spokesman, Jan. 22, 2013
Email interview with Mary Cooney, Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office spokeswoman, Jan. 22, 2013
Email interview with Christina White, Miami-Dade supervisor of elections, Jan. 22, 2013
Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections 2013 legislative package
PolitiFact Florida, "Charlie Crist said Jeb Bush extended early voting after seeing long lines," Nov. 8, 2012
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