The scoring system for the Florida Society of News Editors assigns points for a list of critical government openness bills. Legislators get three points for a floor vote, seven points for co-sponsoring a bill and 10 points for sponsoring a bill that’s on the list. Votes against openness lose points; votes for openness gain points. Legislators got a bonus point for communicating with the Florida First Amendment Foundation about the bill. The scores were compared to the session’s most extreme legislator — good or bad — and turned into standard letter grades for comparison. A perfectly neutral legislator would get a C. In 2017, the most extreme good score paled in comparison with the most extreme worst vote, leaving no legislator with an A score but some with Fs.
The scoring system was criticized by high- and low-scoring legislators from both parties and both legislative chambers. Among the criticisms: The scoring system is too simplistic, didn’t consider the right bills, offered no way to measure a legislator’s overall positive attitude about the importance of open records, and extremely low-scoring legislators altered the scale in a way that made it all but impossible to get As.