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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Mar. 18, 201512:00 PM EST

Senate panel OKs online voter registration

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The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee approved legislation Tuesday that would allow Florida voters to register online — but only after the looming 2016 presidential election.

The bill (SB 228) would allow Floridians with driver’s licenses or state-issued identification cards to submit applications online, using signatures on file with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, as long as the voter’s name and date of birth matched the agency’s records.

Otherwise, the system would fill out a form that could be printed and taken to the office of the local supervisor of elections.

Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat who is sponsoring the bill, said the new system would actually be more secure than the current process for registering to vote, especially when compared to registration drives.

The panel approved the measure on a bipartisan, 7-2 vote.

Following an amendment by the committee, the legislation would take effect Oct. 1, 2017 instead of Jan. 1, 2016, months before a presidential election in which Florida is again expected to be a key swing state.

Clemens brushed off questions about whether the change was politically motivated, noting instead that Secretary of State Ken Detzner is set to update the state’s voter rolls, and the DHSMV is also expected to overhaul its technology system.

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