Senator Nelson joins absentee ballot debate - WFLA News Channel 8

Senator Nelson joins absentee ballot debate

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - Florida Senator Bill Nelson returned Tuesday from a two-day trip observing war games on an aircraft carrier to join another kind of battle that started a week ago in Tampa Bay.

Nelson says this one is pure politics.

The Senator says he's troubled by Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner's directive to shut down remote absentee ballot locations during upcoming elections.

"This could portent a very bad thing for Florida if we let them get away with it,' said Nelson. "We're not going to."

Nelson says the state's directive amounts to voter suppression because it would make it more difficult to cast a ballot.

In Pinellas County -- where early voting in  a special congressional election begins January 4th -- Nelson says absentee ballots accounted for 42% of the vote in the last general election.

Related content:  Polk, Sarasota counties mail incomplete absentee ballots

Last week Detzner issued a memo to supervisors of elections across Florida that basically said the remote collection sites for absentee ballots are illegal.  He told them to limit collection locations to supervisors' offices to create uniformity and reduce voter confusion.

No one in the Secretary of State's press office returned our calls for comment today.

Related content:  Hillsborough to reduce number of polls, precincts


Pinellas Elections Supervisor Deborah Clark says she will ignore the state directive during the congressional election next month and Hillsborough Supervisor Craig Latimer is also against it.

"This is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist," said Latimer.

Nelson says he expects a court battle over the issue and says his office has already contacted the Department of Justice and raised questions about voter rights violations.

"We need to stop this nonsense," said Nelson.

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