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Saturday May 15th, 2021 5:27PM

Butch Miller sponsors bill to create election assistance position

By Alyson Shields Reporter

The Senate has successfully passed Senate Bill 89, which aims to create a position that will have the authority to step in during the elections process and intervene, with bipartisan votes.

"Senate Bill 89 provides assistance for jurisdictions or counties that are having difficulty processing their elections ballots," said Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller, who sponsored the bill. Miller represents the 49th District, which covers Gainesville.

Senate Bill 89 would create the position of a Chief Elections Assistance Officer within the office of the Secretary of State, who would be responsible for supporting and assisting county election officials.
"For instance, if they're a county on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, where their absentee ballots have grown five and six fold - we've seen that throughout the state - they're having to process an exponentially larger number of ballots with the same number people working," he said. "So Senate Bill 89 would provide for assistance for some of these counties."

Miller said this past election, it was a known issue to have ballots not counted for days. He said Fulton County particularly had trouble, and the bill would also help those large counties get the ballots counted.

"How can a population of Florida, of 20 million people count all their ballots and turn in their election results, prior to Fulton County, which has roughly 800,000 registered voters, count their ballots?"

Miller said it wasn't just Fulton County, either, but it wasn't since the mid-1990s that such a struggle to process ballots occurred. He said the goal was to support elections officials, however if the officials couldn't or wouldn't take part, the bill also allows the State Elections Board to step in and help.

The bill also would provide for best practices and programs, Miller said.

Full text of the bill can be found here.

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