GOP-Controlled Legislature Poised To Pass Florida’s Big Voting Restriction Bill

Voters wait in line at the Supervisor of Elections office in Lauderhill to drop off their absentee ballots, Monday, November 5, 2012, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. (Susan Stocker/Sun Sentinel/MCT)
Voters wait in line at the Supervisor of Elections office in Lauderhill to drop off their absentee ballots, Monday, November 5, 2012, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. (Susan Stocker/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
April 29, 2021 11:36 a.m.

Republican legislation that would severely limit the use of mail ballot drop boxes in Florida and impose other restriction on voting is in its final push in the Florida legislature.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Florida House passed its version of a bill known as SB90. The House-passed version included several amendments tweaking the bill that were tacked on at at 1:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday. Now SB90 goes back to the Senate for final passage, but that would depend on the Senate accepting the changes House lawmakers made to the bill.

The GOP-controlled legislature is overhauling Florida’s election system — which had been widely praised in the 2020 election, including by former President Trump and other Republicans — at the urging of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Under the legislation, drop boxes will only be accessible during early voting hours and they must be monitored in person by a staff member of the county election supervisor office. These requirements will make drop boxes both less useful for voters and more costly for election officials to operate. Under the legislation, voters dropping off mail ballots will also be required to show IDs, which voter advocates worry could cause long lines.

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More than 1.5 million Floridians used ballot drop boxes in the November 2020 election.

Additionally, once a drop box location is designated by a county election official — the bill requires that that designation be made by 30 days before an election — it cannot be moved, under the legislation. Voter advocates worry that will stymie their efforts to have election officials rework their drop box plans if certain communities are identified to be lacking in ballot access options.

Drop boxes are not the only election policies targeted by the new legislation. It also requires voters provide new ID information when applying for mail ballots. It imposes additional limits on the third parties who can return mail ballots on behalf of a voter. And it scales back Florida’s system of letting voters sign up to receive mail ballots for multiple elections in a row. Currently voters can sign up to proactively receive mail ballots for every election in a four year period. Under the legislation, such a request would only be good for a single two-year election cycle.

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