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311 posts from October 2012

October 29, 2012

Report shows some amendments garner heavy spending, others not so much

The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting has put together a profile of the 11 constitutional amendments on this year’s ballot, documenting the fundraising efforts behind each initiative.

Called Voter’s Edge, the web-based project shows that a handful of amendments have received most of the nearly $1 million shelled out by groups advocating either in support of or opposition to changes to the state’s founding document.

Amendment 4, the sweeping property tax reform bill, clocked in as the most heavily financed amendment, with more than $4 million raised by Realtors who support the change. (A local-government advocacy group not listed it the report has raised more than $10,000 to oppose the amendment).

Coming in second is Amendment 6, which puts some restrictions on abortion in Florida. Led by Planned Parenthood, groups opposing the amendment have raised $2.1 million. Catholic groups have helped supporters of Amendment 6 raise $409,000.

Amendment 8, which deals with state funding for religious institutions came in third, with about $1.6 million raised in total, mostly from opponents.

Minor amendments on micro-targeted tax cuts for veterans, poor seniors and spouses of fallen heroes saw no fundraising on either side.

For a breakdown of the campaign finance information on this year’s Amendments, click on the links below.

Continue reading "Report shows some amendments garner heavy spending, others not so much" »

Amendment 12: Universities battle over selecting Board of Governors representation

Legislators say Amendment 12 is on the ballot because of fairness. By creating a council consisting of the student body presidents of all the state universities, this amendment will ensure each school has a chance of sending its student representative to the Florida Board of Governors, supporters say.

But a system is already in place that has the same effect, and the state constitution doesn't need to be changed, opponents of Amendment 12 say.

Under the current system, the president of the Florida Student Association (FSA) -- an advocacy organization for state universities that consists of student body presidents -- serves as the Board of Governor's student representative.

All 11 state universities are currently part of the FSA and can help pick the president, but that wasn't always the case. Florida State University has chosen not to participate in recent years. Some alumni and supporters, including several legislators, said that made the student representative selection process unfair and provided the motivation for a bill that put Amendment 12 on the ballot.

Members of the FSA tried to quell the proposal this spring, first arguing that being a member of their organization was not a prerequisite to getting elected to that Board of Governors seat. Then, FSA took it another step further by waiving the $8,500 fee that schools have to pay to become members.

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CNN/ORC FL likely voter poll: Romney 50%, Obama 49%. (But Obama wins just registered voters)

CNN's latest ORC Florida poll is a lot like it's last one showing Mitt Romney beating President Obama by 1 point, inside the poll's error margin, among likely voters. The poll simultaneously backs up both campaigns' statements about the race.

On one hand, it shows Romney is winning, albeit marginally. On the other, the broader poll of just registered voters (those who don't describe themselves as likely to vote) shows Obama beating Romney 52-46. The Obama folks have complained the "screens" of these likely voter polls is stripping out its voters and, it says, it's turning out sporadic voters. The Romney folks say that's spin.

We'll see on Nov. 6. Or maybe the 7th, if there's a too-close-to-call election night.

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FL Dems beat GOP by 73,000 early votes by Monday, wipes out GOP absentee-vote lead. But....

In the first two days of in-person early voting, Florida Democrats wiped away a lead that Florida Republicans had run up thanks to the GOP's strong absentee-ballot program. In all, about 1.9 million ballots have been cast (about 16 percent of the 11.9 million voters)

As of this morning, Democrats cast a total of 73,000 more early in person ballots than Republicans, who had cast about 63,000 more absentee ballots, typically cast by mail. So it looks like a 10,000-vote edge for Democrats.

But it's probably smaller than that.

The Monday absentee ballot numbers aren't really updated because no mail is delivered Sunday. By averaging the daily percentage increases of the GOP absentee-vote lead, the total Democratic advantage could be as low as 2,000. Of course, it could be higher. This is just a projection.

Continue reading "FL Dems beat GOP by 73,000 early votes by Monday, wipes out GOP absentee-vote lead. But...." »

Rubio's daughter released from hospital

"Amanda Rubio is home this morning after being released from Miami Children's Hospital Sunday evening," Sen. Marco Rubio's office said. "She is recuperating from a concussion. Her condition has stabilized and should improve in the coming days. Her prognosis is good and she is expected to make a full recovery."

The 12-year-old was injured in a golf cart accident on Saturday. Sen. Rubio had been campaigning with Mitt Romney and the tour bus made a dramatic stop on I-4 so Rubio could get off and head home to Miami.

-- Alex Leary

State prisons chief Tucker in talks with U.S. attorney's office

Gov. Rick Scott's top prison official, Secretary of Corrections Ken Tucker, is in discussions with the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida for a possible position there. "We're definitely having discussions, but it's not final yet," Tucker said. "I'm not ready to comment on that yet."

Tucker, who is scheduled to leave the nation's third-largest prison system and enter a deferred option retirement program next March, has been seeking other employment opportunities. But he was passed over for a position coordinating drug trafficking investigations in Northeast Florida.

"We're looking at my tenure not being a lot longer over there," Tucker said of the prison system.

Tucker spent more than two decades at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and was named state prisons chief in August 2011, replacing Edwin Buss, a Scott hire from Indiana who quickly ran afoul with the governor's office.

-- Steve Bousquet 

Movers & Shakers: Changes at Tobacco Free Florida and State College

Tobacco Free Florida hires new chief
The Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida has hired Shannon Hughes as chief. The position falls under the Department of Health Division of Community Health Promotion.

In her new role, Hughes will oversee the bureau’s efforts to reduce illness, disability and death related to tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure.She begins Nov. 2, according to a media release from the Department of Health.

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Poll: Floridians skeptical of government, amendments

Floridians are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with government leaders at the federal, state and local level, according to a poll of nearly 1,500 people around the state.

Most Floridians think government leaders are doing a “fair” or “poor” job compared to leaders at businesses or non-profits, the Leadership Florida survey shows.

Leadership Florida—which encourages and promotes community leadership in Florida--- used information gathering company Nielson to conduct the annual Sunshine State Survey between July 28 and Sept. 4.

Here are some highlights.

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October 28, 2012

Voter fraud? Voter suppression? Nah. Numbers show winning FL's all about ground game

If anyone wondered why the GOP-led Legislature reduced the number of in-person early-voting days in Florida, Saturday told you everything you needed to know.

Democrats turned out in force, casting about 49 percent of the roughly 300,000 votes in just 12 hours across the state. Republicans cast 35 percent of the in-person ballots.

Republicans prefer to vote by absentee ballots, which are typically mailed in. The GOP led Democrats by a whopping 66,000 ballots cast on Saturday. Democratic early voting cut that lead by 60 percent in a single day.

All told, 1.6 million Floridians had voted by Sunday morning.

And by Monday morning, when the previous day’s vote tallies are released, that number will grow by the hundreds of thousands. And there’s a chance Democrats could surpass Republicans in pre-Election Day ballots cast.

Sunday was a big day to get out the Democratic base — the black vote — as part of a “Souls to the Polls” rally. This was the only day available for after-church weekend voting because the Legislature eliminated early voting on the Sunday before Election Day.

“They’ve cut back the time, but they can’t cut back the line,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host and founder of the National Action Network, who stumped in South Florida this weekend.

“The lines are longer,” Sharpton said. “And they may be stronger.”

But the evidence of the longer, stronger lines also conflicts with a talking point from liberals: That the Legislature engaged in “voter suppression” by reducing the number of early-voting days from 14 to eight.

Before 2002, there was no early in-person voting at all. Since then, the Legislature has also expanded chances to cast absentee ballots in Florida. Absentee-ballot voting has gone on for almost a month. It’s easy to request and get one. Almost too easy.

So there’s plenty of time for anyone to cast a ballot (unless you’re a felon, which is a separate issue).

Meantime, conservatives are doing their own share of spinning.

The reduction of early voting hours was made in a package of legislative reforms designed to crack down on voter fraud. But the law didn’t touch absentee-ballot voting, which is the easiest way to commit voter fraud (and it’s not that easy to cast fake ballots, either, especially on a significant scale).

The GOP dominates absentee-ballot voting in Florida. So the GOP Legislature saw little reason to harm their vote-by-mail program. And when The Miami Herald began reporting about fraud issues related to absentee ballots in August, Republicans started complaining that the news media were trying to suppress the GOP vote.

Now that in-person and mail-in ballot voting is underway, there’s a wealth of new data for each side to complain and boast about.

More here

PPP FL poll: Obama 49%, Romney 48% (Connie Mack looking like a goner)

From Public Policy Polling, a firm that typically surveys for Democrats

PPP's newest Florida poll finds Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 49/48, flipping the numbers from each of our last two polls of the state which found Romney leading by a point. Every poll PPP has conducted in the state since the first Presidential debate has found a one point race.

Obama's leading in Florida based on his strength with women (54/45), African Americans (89/10), and voters under 30 (55/39). Romney is strong with men (53/43), whites (57/39), and seniors (53/46). Romney also has narrow advantages with Hispanics (54/46) and independents (50/43).

Continue reading "PPP FL poll: Obama 49%, Romney 48% (Connie Mack looking like a goner)" »