‘A LOT OF FLAK’
“We all took a lot of flak all over the nation for some of the problems we had over the election last year. We were the butt of jokes on late-night TV,” said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who sponsored the Senate reform.
“There was enough blame to go around,” Latvala said. “And there were supervisors who were not adequately prepared for the election.”
At the House’s insistence, the Senate backed away from the language punishing noncompliant supervisors. The Senate then passed the bill 27-13, with Democrats calling for even more early-voting hours. The House passed the bill 115-1.
The House also added the language eliminating the early primary as well as the existence of a special committee that was established to set the vote date.
Republican lawmakers say the committee isn’t needed. And they want to eliminate it on the off chance that former Gov. Charlie Crist beats Gov. Rick Scott and stocks the committee with Republicans friendly to Crist, who left the GOP before he lost to Rubio in 2010 and has recently become a Democrat.
The new primary-date provision, passed as an amendment Friday afternoon, specifically says Florida’s primary will be held “on the first Tuesday that the rules of the major political parties provide for state delegations to be allocated without penalty.”
That would put Florida in compliance with rules recently passed by the Republican National Committee, which requires states to hold a primary or caucus before the final Tuesday in February.
The RNC made the changes after the past two elections, when it struggled to stop renegade states like Florida and Michigan from moving up their primary dates to get ahead of traditional caucus and primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
When Florida jumped ahead last year, the GOP penalized the state party by allowing only 49 of its 99 delegates.
Also, Florida’s Republican delegates were given far-away hotel rooms during the Republican National Convention — even though it was held in their home-state city of Tampa.
In some cases, Florida delegates were stuck for hours on a bus as they tried to head to the RNC event.
“This way, no one from Florida should have to wait on a bus for six hours,” Reid said.
Herald/Times staff writers Mary Ellen Klas and Steve Bousquet contributed to this report