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Florida Senator Calls Out Colleagues Over Election Mess

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Long lines at a polling precinct in Little Havana on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. (Source: CBS4 Viewer/John Vishak)

Long lines at a polling precinct in Little Havana on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. (Source: CBS4 Viewer/John Vishak)

David-Sutta-600x450 David Sutta
David Sutta joined the CBS4 news team in April of 2007. As S...
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campaign 2012 new2 Florida Senator Calls Out Colleagues Over Election Mess

MIAMI (CBS4) – While you may be hard pressed this week to find a Republican Florida legislator who want to talk about election reforms they championed, Democrats are more than ready.

In fact, one has no problem calling his colleagues out.

“I have to honestly say that most of the fault lands the Governor and the legislature,” Senator Oscar Braynon told CBS4’s David Sutta.

Braynon believes voters in Florida were setup for those long lines, with long ballots, and less days to vote.

“This was called voter suppression for a reason. It was meant to make a long line.  To get a voter, a casual voter, to walk up to that and say ‘yeah I’m not going to wait in that line,’ and turn around and walk away,” Braynon said.

The Senator isn’t just speaking from the party line, he sat on the committee that passed the election reform creating the mess Florida is in today, where the Sunshine State’s vote still is not in.

Speaking of his Republican counterparts, he said “I think they saw it coming.  I think that was the point.”

Braynon opposed Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, who pushed the reforms through. The Miami Republican has been ducking CBS4’s calls for a week now.

“It’s not just you as the press.  We as Senators can’t,” said Braynon about reaching Diaz de la Portilla.

Florida House Bill 1355 was supposed to cut down on fraud.  But what fraud it cut down is not quite clear.

Braynon explained there never was proof Florida’s election was in danger of being stolen by thieves.

“There was no huge spike in fraud.  If anywhere there was fraud it was in absentee ballots.  We didn’t change a single law with absentee balloting and that’s obvious because that’s where the majority party gets most of their votes and we get a majority of our votes in early voting. I thought it was very pointed.  I thought it was slick.  This is chess, not checkers.”  Braynon said.

The bill also changed early voting from 14 days to 8 to save money.   But at the same time extended the number of hours staff had to work from 7am to 7pm.  After eight hours, elections staff makes time and half.  The overtime became even more of an issue as voting often continued passed the 7pm deadline late into the night.

“So I doubt we saved any money if not probably spent more money.” Braynon said.

The Senator says he will now file a bill to reverse what’s been done.  He’s not optimistic Tallahassee will be eager to pass it.  However he believes it will be the groundwork for amendments on other election reform bills that will have a shot.

“This will be a major issue for me.  I won’t let it go.  As I don’t let it go and I am going to continue to make noise and file the bill,”  Braynon pledged.

Meanwhile thousands of voters have another coming.  For the record number of people who voted absentee, in the next few weeks thousands will be in for a surprise.  A letter telling them their vote didn’t count.  Elections offices statewide are required to send out the letter sometime after Thanksgiving with an explanation why their vote was tossed.  There will also be instructions on how to correct whatever the issue is. More often than not many voters will need to update their signatures in the election database.

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