President thrusts Florida voting problems into spotlight

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida's voting problems were thrust into the worldwide spotlight Tuesday night during the president's State of the Union address.

Just hours after a 102-year-old Miami woman was honored for waiting three hours to vote, state lawmakers in Florida moved on a bill to fix Florida's voting problems.

Desline Victor waited patiently as the president spoke, a virtue that served her well while trying to vote last November.

"She was told the wait to vote might be six hours," Obama said. "As time ticked by, her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have their say."

Obama honored Victor for her dedication to the voting process.

"The crowd erupted in cheers when she was finally able to put on a sticker that read 'I voted,'" Obama said.

A long ballot and a cut in early voting days are to blame for Victor's wait. The problems were created by a change in state law.

Just hours after the president's speech, a house committee at the state Capitol passed a reform bill. It would allow elections supervisors to restore early voting to 14 days on a county-by-county basis.

The Florida Senate also has an elections bill. Senate President Don Gaetz talked about how his chamber plans to fix the voting problems.

"Most counties in Florida had a flawless election, and some just keep on having flawed elections," Gaetz said.

He said there isn't a one-size-fits-all fix.

"Not everybody has the same problems. Early voting problems in Miami-Dade are very, very different than early voting problems in Holmes County," Gaetz said.

With both chambers pushing election reform and the governor changing his tune on early voting, Florida's next election will likely look a lot different.

The bill passed by the House Ethics and Elections Subcommittee on Wednesday would also limit ballot questions to 75 words.