Florida's voting procedures have a long history as being a joke, but the utter incompetence and suppression tactics coming from the current Secretary of State is no laughing matter.
The man in charge of running elections in Florida simply doesn't appear to be interested in his job.
The latest example of this is the proposed implementation of online voter registration that other states have easily transitioned to, which not only saves money, but guards against the risk of voter fraud, which we're told by the GOP, absent of facts, is rampant and must be stopped at all costs.
Lawmakers are currently trying to implement online registration by 2017, a deadline they already pushed back from 2016. The plan also has unanimous support from the state's supervisors of elections.
Yet SOS Ken Detzner, who claims he's all about "voter integrity," opposes the idea. Worse, his excuses don't pass the laugh test. In fact, they're astounding.
Yesterday he showed up voluntarily to explain why he thinks online registration is a bad idea.
Among the reasons the biggest joke of an SOS since Katherine Harris is opposed to online voter registration:
Detzner contended that not much planning or “thought” has gone into mandating online registration.
Legislators called him on this excuse, pointing out that they've been discussing this issue for two years. Detzner, of course, has been SOS since 2012. Given that elections are kind of his job, you would think he might have heard about these discussions. Perhaps he was too busy trying to bump eligible voters off the rolls when he was helping Rick Scott implement a voter purge to notice.
That botched voter purge brings us to his next excuse for opposing online voter registration:
Fla. Sec. Of State Detzner now saying flawed search for non-citizen voters is part of reason he's fearful abt online registration— Gary Fineout (@fineout) April 8, 2015
If you're citing your own office's voter purge screw-up as a reason not to implement online registration, maybe Secretary Of State isn't the job for you? After all, if you can't be trusted with guarding the integrity of voter databases and information, then yes, you probably shouldn't be trusted to implement online voting registration, which leads to this little item that almost flew under the radar:
Elections officials, meanwhile, were livid to learn that Detzner released private data on more than 45,000 voters — including judges and police officers — and didn't alert them immediately.
Detzner's office acknowledged that the security breach on so-called high-risk voters — who should have been exempt from disclosure — included judges, police, firefighters, prosecutors, public defenders and crime victims and their family members, among others.
By law, those voters can choose to keep private information that's generally public on the voter rolls, including birth dates, home and email addresses, party affiliations and phone numbers if provided.
"Their safety has been compromised," said Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards.
Detzner's office said it gave the data to 15 individuals or groups that asked for copies of the statewide voter database, and cited a malfunction in automated software which it says has been fixed.
The secretary of state quietly announced the problem on March 31 and posted a news release on the agency's website, but neither the news media nor election supervisors were notified.
The release said all 15 recipients of the data have been told to disregard, destroy and/or return the information while it works to notify the affected people. The state did not identify who obtained the information.
Detzner's office called the released information "non-confidential" but election supervisors said that is wrong. Supervisors noted that the form provided by Detzner's office for high risk voters is called an "identification confidentiality request."
"This information is confidential by Florida statute," Edwards said. "We were not notified."
It seems SOS Detzner's office can't be trusted with private voter data, and we've already seen it can't be trusted to guard voter integrity.
The problem isn't that we shouldn't have online voter registration in Florida. The problem is we shouldn't let our current SOS have anything to do with the process of implementing online registration.
This also begs the question: Why is this man still on the job? Unfortunately, the answer may well be that this is why he IS still on the job. Rick Scott doesn't want it to be easier to vote in Florida, so by his standards, Detzner is just the man for the job.
This may be the first time I've ever agreed with a Republican in the legislature, but to quote Sen. Jack Latvala: