Florida incoming state Senate President Don Gaetz tells the Tampa Bay Times Rick Danielson today that he's still waiting for an apology from the League of Women Voters and Democrats. Gaetz says he was unfairly accused by those groups of trying to suppress votes when he supported the controversial elections reform bill of 2011 in Tallahassee that, among other things, reduced the days of early voting from 14 to eight.
I wouldn't wait around for that phone call, Mr. Senate President.
Danielson's story begins with former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio's suggestion that Governor Rick Scott convene a task force to examine all the maladies that have led to Florida again becoming a national punchline when it comes to elections, as we are now into the third day of waiting for Florida to officially count all the votes in the presidential election. You know, the same election in which the other 49 states turned in their results on Tuesday night?
How about this to begin with, Senator Gaetz? How allowing early voting to go back to 14 days?
Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, former Governor Jeb Bush and just defeated Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections candidate Rich Glorioso all said directly to me over the past few weeks what Gaetz is saying, and I don't think the public is buying it: That the huge turnout of early voting in the last week of October was a "success," and therefore there was no need to expand that voting last Sunday. They're saying that reducing the days when people could vote was actually a good thing.
Charlie Crist had it right four years ago when he expanded the hours of early voting when pressed to do so, and he had it right this week when he called it "unconscionable" that Scott wouldn't do the same thing, specifically extending the early voting days to Sunday when people waited for hours and hours in lines last Saturday night.
Look, there are obviously some problems at some individual supervisor of elections offices that have left some voting precincts more vulnerable to larger lines than others. But it's clearly unacceptable (as President Obama alluded to in his speech to the nation early Wednesday morning) for people to be waiting in line to vote for more than five hours after the polls closes.
Why is it so hard for state Republicans to want to support more opportunities for voting? And again, who said that this state needed an elections bill like we got in 2011? No, now we do need a bill - to correct some of HB 1355's excesses.
Florida and its leaders are getting off lucky. Can you imagine if this state's 29 electoral votes actually did matter this time around, and the whole world really cared about what was happening her, instead of using it for comedic fodder?
On to other news: more reflections of Tuesday night's stunning election results. On a conference call yesterday, Obama campaign officials reflected on their victory, with David Plouffe adding an important note to those who want to know if the secret sauce of the Obama GOTV efforts can be easily duplicated.
There have been lots of important stories written this week about the rise of the Latino vote and what that might mean for the Republican party. Left out of that discussion is the growing number of Asian voters in this country, who voted just as overwhelmingly for Democrats this time around.
Jeb Bush complained during this campaign season that Barack Obama should start manning up and stop blaming his brother, George W., for the economic morass the country has been in the past four years. The problem for Jeb and the Republican Party, according to exit polls, is that the country as a whole still does blame CW. for the mess Obama inherited.