TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a new report, the Collins Center for Public Policy examines the state of election reform in Florida a decade after a bipartisan task force called for substantial changes.
Florida became a laughingstock in 2000 as the nation awaited the results of the presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Alarmed by the spectacle, Gov. Jeb Bush asked the Collins Center to form a task force and analyze flaws in Florida's elections process.
In March 2001, the Governor's Select Task Force on Election Procedures, Standards and Technology produced 35 recommendations in a report "Revitalizing Democracy in Florida." Ten years later, a majority of the recommendations have been instituted.
Among the significant changes:
- All counties now use optical scan voting machines. In 2000, Florida's voters faced a hodge-podge of hardware, including the infamous punch-card machines.
- The optical scan machines leave a paper trail that voters and elections officials can review at the polling place if necessary.
- All ballots are now tabulated at the precinct. In many counties that used touch-screen technology, the votes were moved from the precinct and downloaded at a central location.
- A statewide voter registration system helps weed out duplicate voters, which were a problem in the 2000 election.
- A uniform ballot design was instituted. During the 2000 election, Palm Beach County used a flawed "butterfly ballot" that confused voters.
- A uniform methodology for recounts was established.
The report notes that challenges to election reform still remain. Counties continue to struggle to find qualified poll workers; the down economy is affecting the scope and reach of voter education programs; and the Legislature has declined to change the elected county supervisors of elections to non-partisan positions.
"There will always be room for improvement," said Secretary of State Kurt Browning. "We need to continue looking at our policies and procedures and laws to see if they're old and antiquated. Also, we need to look at technology to save money but at the same time, preserving voters' confidence in the whole process."
To read the report and view an interactive map showing changes in Florida counties, visit www.CollinsCenter.org.
Named after Florida Gov. LeRoy Collins, the nonprofit Collins Center is independent, nonpartisan and dedicated to advancing the understanding of important public policy issues.
Asst. News & Information Director
SOURCE Collins Center for Public Policy