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COLUMN

Happytown: Ken Detzner is listening

That voting reform law that ruined everything may have come from a bad place

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On a somewhat lighter note, though only relatively speaking, last week brought us the comedic barnstorm "listening tour" launched by Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner. You'll recall that the governor and legislature have randomly engaged in "listening tours" over the past year or so, typically when they really don't want to hear anything. According to the Tampa Bay Times, that tone-deafness has reared again with Detzner, who still insists that "we had a really good election," even while chastising local supervisors of elections for fouling things up. When election officials in Hillsborough County pulled out their standard litany of complaints – early voting was drastically cut, voter registration was hampered, you made this mess – Detzner pulled out his blame finger and said, "talk to the legislature."

When we interviewed former state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, for this week's feature on ethics, she got off on a tangent about how screwed up the election process was, especially considering the nefarious manner in which the legislative culprit for all this hassle, House Bill 1355, was sneaked through under her own watch. Days later, she opined about what really happened in her own blog on FloridaVoices.com.

"A reporter discovered that the general counsel of the Republican Party of Florida drafted the election reform bill," she wrote. "That language was not in the original bill but rather became an amendment to an innocuous bill in the budget committee, which prevented it from being debated in the Ethics and Elections committee." Dockery used to chair that committee and now recommends that HB 1355 should basically be undone. Not unexpectedly, Dockery is not terribly satisfied with Detzner's magical mystery tour and its adjoining blame game.
"A listening tour is a fine idea," she wrote, "but the secretary of state should spend more time listening and less time defending the indefensible."

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