When the world last had its eyes on Florida"s election process, the United States Supreme Court was embroiled in the controversy over whether the Federal Courts could shut down Florida"s vote-counting process. Though 2000"s Bush. v. Gore decision ultimately ended with Florida halting its recount and George W. Bush being declared the winner, the entire debacle exposed many of the faults of our decentralized, patchwork election system.
State-by-state differences in whether felons could vote or what voting equipment was used resulted in a debate about federal vs. state regulation of elections - but now Floridians are facing dejavu, with new election controversies bubbling to the surface. The difference is this time, rather than a federal vs. state struggle - state officials are wrangling with county election administrators over - you guessed it - ex-felon disenfranchisement.
Currently, Florida officials are in a power struggle over whether the state or the county has the authority (rather, the privilege) to remove a felon from the new statewide Florida Voter Registration System. Pasco County"s elections supervisor wants the state to quicken the pace in purging names from the voter registration database, but state officials are trying to be more cautious after the 2000 controversy.
According to today's Palm Beach Post:
County supervisors and the state disagree over who has the authority to remove a felon from the Florida Voter Registration System.
Elections supervisors contend that, under state law, the authority is theirs.
But state officials say the supervisors must enter the prospective voter's information into the system and it cannot be removed until the Division of Elections determines the voter is a felon whose civil rights have not been restored and thus is ineligible to vote.
"They're overstepping their authority," said Kurt Browning, Pasco County elections supervisor. "They are not turning out felons quickly enough for us. They are being so overly cautious."
Considering the many shortcomings of state-run elections, it is ludicrous to imagine that county-run elections are more beneficial and organized than one uniform state election system, and it is likewise ludicrous to imagine that 50-state elections for a national body are more beneficial and organized than one uniform national election system. Florida is a prime example of a state that needs more uniformity and organization in their statewide elections. The nation should look to these continuing battles between local, state, and federal election officials as a call for national standards and election administration.
Marisa is a summer intern at FairVote. She attends Williams College and is from Brooklyn, NY. During her free time, Marisa enjoys interpretive dance as well as attending body building competitions.