Lawmakers push to implement online voter registration

Lawmakers argue online registration could boost ballot numbers


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Registering to vote by using a pen and paper in person could be a thing of the past under a proposed online voter registration bill. But one of the governor's top officials, the secretary of state, is adamantly opposed, much to the dismay of senators.

Florida's House speaker said his chamber could take up the Senate bill, but Gov. Rick Scott could veto the measure if it makes it to his desk.

Florida lawmakers said it's about time the state joins 20 others in implementing online voter registration -- a computer based tool that could help boost ballot numbers.

"We can't be stuck in the 1900s anymore," Sen. Jeff Clemens said. "We've found a secure way of doing this."

But the secretary of state and top election official Ken Detzner isn't backing it, even though he originally did. Senators grilled him over his flip-flop.

"Have you had any direction from the Governor's Office or anyone else that influenced you to change your position and say that we shouldn't do this and shouldn't pass this bill?" Sen. Don Gaetz said.

"I'm concerned about having the date hanging over my head, because it changes and enforces a realignment of the people and the resources -- the taxpayer's resources," Detzner said.

The program would need to be in place by October 2017. Clemens said he isn't so sure the lack of support isn't just a GOP roadblock.

"Truthfully, if you're giving someone two and a half years and you can't do it, then you probably need to find some new staff," Clemens said.

The sponsor said he's admittedly worried about a veto, but it might not even get that far after hitting a snag on the House floor.

The bill was supposed to be taken up but was postponed after questions arose over funding.

"That is actually coming from a trust fund, so we're looking at clarifying that," Rep. Steve Crisafulli said.

The Senate said the program could cost anywhere between $250,000 up to nearly $2 million, based on other state's implementation.