Friday, February 18, 2005

Bush proposes condensing election power

Not Georgie, Jeb:

'Ever since November, state officials have been crowing about how well Florida ran its presidential election.

Popular early voting, healthy turnout and only a handful of official complaints seemed a testament to voting changes lawmakers passed after the 2000 presidential election debacle.

So it came as a shock to legislative leaders and county elections supervisors when Gov. Jeb Bush unveiled a sweeping proposal Wednesday that concentrated power over how counties run elections in the hands of Secretary of State Glenda Hood.
The bill would give Hood the final word in interpreting state and federal elections law, as well as voter rolls.

It also would grant her the authority to seek fines and criminal charges against county supervisors of election who fail to follow her interpretation of elections law.

The measure is supposed to be a response to a federal law that requires, among other things, a statewide voter database and uniformity in voting.

But critics say it goes far beyond the federal law.
'I kind of like the idea that supervisors should be responsible for maintaining the list. The problem is when they ignore their responsibility,' Bush said.

'There needs to be a means ... for the secretary of state, who is the chief elections officer, to be able to have the wherewithal to sanction and, if necessary, take charge,' he said.

Bush didn't name specific supervisors who he says failed in their duties, but last year he criticized several who refused during the last election to purge voters whose names appeared on a state list of felons, who can't vote in Florida unless they've had their civil rights restored.

The state ultimately scrapped the list, which turned out to be flawed.
Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate in Washington, D.C., said he would support a central official being the final word on elections laws and procedures in some states - but not Florida.

The state has a history of political contamination in its highest elections office, he said, making it unwise to designate that office as the final arbiter on laws and procedures.

'There have been a lot of interpretations by Katherine Harris and her successor that have been partisan interpretations,' Gans said, referring to Hood's predecessor, now in Congress.' (But) if the secretary of state were isolated from politics, that would be fine."'

George is inarticulate to the point of incoherence, has to have his daily briefings abridged (and read to him by aides), and makes decisions based on his "gut feelings" rather than data. Jeb is the ultimate details guy; sure, he delivered Florida big-time last November, but that doesn't mean there aren't ways to refine the system. If they weren't both arrogant, Machiavellian assholes who existed solely to accumulate more power, you'd never guess they were related.


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