News & Features » News

Zero state supervisors of elections think the Florida Legislature's crackdown on vote-by mail is a good idea

Out of the box

By

comment

The coronavirus caused a major increase in the number of Floridians who voted by mail in November, a process state Republicans have championed for years as they gained control of the House, Senate and governor's mansion.

But while Florida's elections ran smoothly last year, GOP lawmakers are pushing ahead with a wide-ranging proposal to revamp vote-by-mail laws, including banning the use of drop boxes and taking aim at a practice known as "ballot harvesting."

The bill, SB 90, comes amid efforts in various parts of the country by Republicans to place new restrictions on voting by mail, after former President Donald Trump attacked the process during his unsuccessful re-election campaign last year. It also comes after Florida Democrats used vote-by-mail ballots heavily in November.

Senate bill sponsor Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said the proposed vote-by-mail changes are designed to ensure the security of future elections.

"I am all about staying ahead of whatever problems could develop," Baxley said before the GOP-controlled Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee voted 4-2 along party lines to approve the bill last Wednesday. "So, it's not that there was a debacle and we have to fix it. Do we have to wait for a debacle? Why can't we take something that is working well and put guardrails on it and keep it safe?"

But Democrats and county elections supervisors opposed the bill, expressing concerns about issues such as the proposed ban on drop boxes, which many voters used in 2020 instead of placing ballots in the mail. Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley, who is the vice president of a statewide supervisors association, said the bill could create a return to past problems of long lines and confusion at polling places.

"I have heard of no supervisors who are in support of this bill," Earley said. 

Tags

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.