Florida election overhaul a certainty
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Mar 08, 2001
Select Task Force on Election Reform's report
Saying Floridians are "humble enough to acknowledge our shortcomings and
principled enough to seek to correct them," Gov. Jeb Bush pledged that the
state would dedicate resources to revamp its voting system before the 2002
His remarks during his March 6 State of the State speech came after
a bipartisan election task force released recommendations for improving
statewide procedures. The 21-member, Bush-appointed group was formed in
late December after the state was criticized for its election procedures,
standards and machinery.
"But neither the history of the 2000 campaign nor your own history is
fully written, and the action you take this session will provide a lens
through which the election can be better judged," he told the state legislature.
Among the 35 recommendations in the Select Task Force on Election Reform's
78-page report are:
* Better voter education and sharing of best practices.
* Creation and publication of a voter's bill of rights and responsibilities.
* Better civic education.
* Recruitment of more qualified poll workers.
* Creation of nonpartisan election supervisor positions.
The task force also called for a uniform and standardized statewide
voting system by 2002 and said voters had lost confidence in the punch-card
The report compared different voting technologies, including the state-certified
optical reading system, a touch-screen system and Internet voting.
The report said the latter two systems were too costly or too "experimental"
to be viable and recommended that counties lease optical reading system
voting equipment until other options are more advanced. However, the report
also called for accelerated research and development of Internet voting
for overseas registered voters.
In the meantime, the state legislature should establish a matching grant
or loan program to help counties lease, replace or upgrade their certified
systems by 2002, according to the report. Leasing optical reading system
machines could cost up to $24 million for the 4,000 precincts; buying them
could cost up to $44 million.
The report also recommended that the state fund $3 million for the creation
of a comprehensive statewide online voter registration database.