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Bill Passed to Expand Early Voting; Change Primary Dates

A bill that would expand early voting in Florida is now headed to Gov. Rick Scott.

The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times' Tallahassee Bureau reports the House and Senate approved the bill Friday, the last day of the legislative session. It would allow elections supervisors to hold up to 14 days of early voting instead of the current eight days. It also would expand sites where early voting can be held.

The bill (HB 7013) attempts to address problems with long lines and counting delays that once again made Florida the butt of late night television jokes during the presidential election.

The bill was passed two years after the Republican-led Legislature and Scott cut early voting from 14 days to eight.

The bill would also move back the presidential primary to comply with national party rules, a move involving Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida.

Rubio persuaded state lawmakers to make the last-minute change eliminating Florida’s early presidential primary — a race in which the Republican could be on the ballot.

The League of Women Voters of Florida applauded the move:

"This reform was essential for the people of Florida, and the Legislature is to be congratulated for its bipartisan collaboration to bring such a superior effort to the Governor for his signature," said League president Deirdre Macnab. "We believe the changes in this bill will help prevent the long lines, observed all across the world, that Florida voters endured last November." The bill expands access to early voting by allowing more early voting days, gives supervisors more flexibility in choosing early voting locations, keeps legislatively-generated amendment summaries to 75 words or less, and restores the ability of Floridians to move within the state and still cast a regular ballot.  It also, for the first time, allows voters who vote by mail to have a window of time to ensure their ballot counts if they forget to sign the outside of the envelope.

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