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Cape Coral Republican Rep. Dane Eagle (HD 77)
Florida House Majority Leader Dane Eagle has the backing of the next Senate President and House Speaker.

Influence

Dane Eagle hopes both parties agree on election reforms

It would appear Florida lawmakers in both parties left recount season with election reform on the mind.

State Rep. Dane Eagle, now the House Republican Leader, lists the issue among his own priorities this year.

The Cape Coral lawmaker says changes to the state’s election laws will likely come up during the 2019 Legislative Session after the “tough election season” that just drew to a close in Florida.

His remark came a day after House Democrat Leader Kionne McGhee pledged to make the issue a top priority of his caucus.

Eagle was even hopeful there may be common ground between Republicans and Democrats on the issue.

“We all want to see clear rules,” Eagle said. “There’s some ambiguity in the statutes, and that led to confusion all around.”

This week, McGhee also expressed hope at having a positive conversation with Republicans.

“Floridians deserve a democracy where voters decide elections, not broken machines or arbitrary deadlines,” said McGhee, a Cutler Bay Democrat. “We believe our colleagues across the aisle will work with us on this effort.”

Calls for a fresh look at voting laws come after Florida completed an unprecedented three statewide recounts — for U.S. Senate, Governor and Agriculture Commissioner.

In the midst of that, legal challenges from Democrats like U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who lost his seat to Republican Rick Scott, successfully sought to allow more time for voters to verify signatures on vote-by-mail ballots, and also called (unsuccessfully) for courts to allow votes to count that arrived by mail after polls closed.

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Meanwhile, Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell, who lost to Democrat Nikki Fried, filed his own complaints against Broward elections officials.

He demanded a better early accounting of how many votes came into the office, and also sought explanations on why thousands of votes got logged in after polls closed.

Additionally, populous counties like Broward and Palm Beach dealt with equipment issues.

Of course, McGhee had pushed a number of issues popular among progressives like automatic voter registration and eliminating voter purges.

But Speaker Jose Oliva had stressed to reporters on Tuesday that strict adherence to the law should be the goal of election reform.

So the shared interest in the broad issue doesn’t mean GOP and Democratic lawmakers will agree on everything — or even on exactly what problems exist.

“As always, the devil is in the details,” Eagle said.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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