Fla. Democrats offer 7-step voting fix plan

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Senate Democrats are promoting a seven-step plan to fix Florida's election problems, namely the long lines, slow returns and absentee ballot problems that plagued voting in the Sunshine State in November.

Some of the fixes are already being pushed by GOP legislative leaders. Others will have to be fought for.

On the check list are restoring early voting to 14 days, opening the polls the Sunday before Election Day, more precincts, and more in-person absentee voting.

"We had early voting lines that from the open of early voting to the end of early voting, all eight days, has a minimum of four hours," said Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami.

Many of these fixes were in place before Republican legislative leaders passed a 2011 bill to change Florida's voting laws.

"If you have better ideas, you shouldn't have to cheat to win," said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Palm Beach.

Clemens said the 2011 bill was a GOP attempt to rig the election.

"I think it was their intent to make it harder for people to vote," he said.

Legislative leaders are promising to fix voting this year, but Senate Democrats say they can't support anything that doesn't have all seven of their criteria.

Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith said his party will hold the line on voting reform.

"If those are not in the bill, it would be hard for me to support that bill," Smith said.

But Republicans have enough members to pass bills without Democratic votes, and so far, their fixes fall just shy of the seven steps unveiled Monday.

The 2013 legislative session begins Tuesday, but bills to fix voting problems have already been filed and have already been given reviewed in committee.

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