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With a few hiccups, Florida online voter registration up and running

Two years after the Florida Legislature approved allowing Floridians online voter registration, registertovoteflorida.gov went live October 1.

In 2015, state lawmakers provided the Secretary of State’s office $1.8 million to encourage him to support online registration, agreeing to delay implementation until Sunday.

On Wednesday, Maria Matthews, Division Director for the Secretary of State’s office, told the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee there have been more than 1,000 transactions on the site once it went live.

Many were simple address changes, Matthews said. The department received between 30-50 calls regarding the system, she added, with the top three questions is on browser compatibility, frustrations with the captcha and driver’s licenses not being validated.

In adopting the registration system, Florida was behind the curve. Thirty-five other states have already implemented such measures, with Oklahoma and Idaho in the process of adding the feature.

The department will soon launch a statewide public awareness campaign informing Floridians about the website, mostly through digital ads and billboards in both English and Spanish.

State Rep. Katie Edwards said she received some criticism from constituents after the site went live. One user told the Plantation Democrat he spent 24 minutes to download the registration form before giving up.

“Some of the initial responses were not positive,” Edwards noted.

Matthews responded that the agency has a voter assistance hotline for people to contact. If it is a problem with a browser or printer setting, “those things can complicate issues,” she said.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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