TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's elections chief is resigning from his job after the state's Jan. 31 presidential primary.
Secretary of State Kurt Browning told Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday that he wants to go back to his home in Pasco County. Browning was the elections supervisor for that county for 26 years.
"It's stressful every Sunday afternoon when you have to load up the car and head north," Browning said.
Browning, 53, said he has no immediate plans, although he said he's considering running for Pasco County school superintendent. His wife works as a school nurse for the district. His last day on the job will be Feb. 17.
"It's not the reason I'm going home," he said. "It's to be with my wife, my family and my community."
Browning was first tapped by former Gov. Charlie Crist as secretary of state. It marked the first time that the job was filled by someone with lengthy experience in running elections. Florida voters in 1998 changed the job of secretary of state from an elected position to an appointed one.
Browning worked for Crist until April 2010, but the Scott administration asked him to return in January 2011. He was earning just under $140,000 a year.
It was during Browning's first go-round as secretary of state that Florida ditched touchscreen voting machines for most voters and shifted to optical scan machines that rely on paper ballots.
In his second stint, Browning has been responsible for defending a controversial election law passed last year by state legislators.
After lawmakers passed the bill, which put new limits on voter registration drives and reduced early voting days, Browning ordered that the law be put in place in most Florida counties. That was a departure from the past when the state had usually waited before putting new election laws in place because five counties in Florida require preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice because of past discrimination.
Browning, however, then asked a federal court in Washington, D.C., to determine whether those provisions comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. He said he wanted the court to review the decision to be free of "outside influence."
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