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Fla. Official Pitches Election Law Changes

February 17, 2005

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ The Florida secretary of state’s office Wednesday proposed changing election law to give voters more privacy at polling sites _ and give those who cast provisional ballots a week, instead of two days, to prove their eligibility.

The measures would also establish the secretary _ the current officeholder is Republican Glenda Hood _ as the ultimate referee when disputes arise from different interpretations of election law by county supervisors.

The proposals appear to give the secretary sweeping powers and could create a showdown with the 67 county supervisors. The proposals also were not discussed in advance with leaders of the Florida House and Senate.

A key change would give supervisors and canvassing boards more time to review provisional ballots, eliminating some of the pressure to make a decision in the heat of an election. Another recommendation would provide a 100-foot sanctuary around the polling site instead of the present 50 feet, a move that keeps partisans at bay.

``We heard some concerns this past election of overzealous people, yelling back and forth,″ said department spokeswoman Jenny Nash. ``Some voters were feeling a little intimidated so we’d like to assure a comfortable area for the voters.″

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