Florida Times-Union by Eve Samples Florida Society of News Editors
October 6, 2019
This editorial was written by Eve Samples on behalf of the Florida Society of News Editors.
State lawmakers came dangerously close to creating two classes of Floridians this year.
One class — call them the politically connected class — would have consisted of candidates, parties and political action committees. This group’s right to access valuable voter information would have been protected by a bill advanced last spring in the Florida Legislature.
The second class — meaning everyone else in Florida — would have been legally blocked from accessing the same information: voter email addresses, cellphone numbers and addresses.
That would have put grassroots organizations and civic groups at a disadvantage to PACs, parties and candidates. Involved citizens would have had a tough time contacting voters in their communities.
It was a dangerous and undemocratic idea — and, fortunately, outcry from public-records advocates prompted cooler heads in the Florida Legislature to remove the worst provisions from the bill, CS/HB 281.
But this brush with bad policy was not an anomaly.