What’s in Florida’s New Election Law?
A slew of states recently passed restrictive voting laws following the loss of Donald Trump. As Texas Democrats got out to prevent a bill from being passed there, Florida’s new election law was passed easily with Republicans backing in late April.
“We’re not resting on our laurels, and I signing this bill here says, ‘Florida, your vote counts,'” Gov. Ron DeSantis told ‘Fox & Friends’ hosts on May 6 when has signed Senate Bill 90 a tan Event where Florida journalists were banned. “Your vote will be cast with integrity and transparency, and it is a great place for democracy.”
Florida law is not as extensive as Georgia’s SB 202, which has resulted in a backlash from businesses and cost Atlanta the chance to host the All-Star Game of Baseball. But it will change some of the voting rules in the country’s largest battlefield state.
The Florida State Association of Election Supervisors, which includes Republicans and Democrats, criticized the legislation. The new restrictions prompted several lawsuits by voting and civil rights groups, including the League of Women Voters and the NAACP. National Republican groups supporting the law have sought to intervene in a lawsuit.
“SB 90 is a bill that claims to solve problems that don’t exist, answers a dangerous lie about the 2020 election that threatens our most fundamental democratic values, and ultimately makes it harder to vote without adequate justification for doing so, “wrote the complainants in the lawsuit brought by lawyer Marc Elias on behalf of the League of Women Voters. Elias filed several challenges to the electoral law across the country.
The new law leaves some key voting rights in Florida unchanged, such as allowing voters to vote by mail without excuse and keep at least eight days of early voting. But it restricts other aspects of voting, especially postal voting, following an election in which Democrats voted more by mail than Republicans, a reversal of past trends.
The law includes many technical and administrative changes for election officials. Here are some of the main changes.
Changes to the rules regarding the request for ballots
Requests for postal ballots will not last as long as in the past. Instead of being able to request a ballot for the next two general elections – the next four years – voters are limited to requesting ballots only for the next general election, or two years. However, current requests have acquired rights.
The new law also prohibits election officials from sending ballots to a voter unless requested to do so. This provision is an attempt to prevent what officials in some other states have done to send ballots to all voters due to the pandemic.
Floridians requesting a postal vote in person or by telephone must provide their driver’s license number, a state-issued identification number, or the last four digits of their social security number, whichever can be verified in the supervisor’s files. Those requesting a postal ballot in writing must provide the same ID and sign their request.
The new rules have raised questions for election supervisors, such as how to deal with postal ballot requests from voters who registered so long ago that they registered without such identifications. Election officials are expected to discuss these types of issues at their 2021 summer conference in Tampa.
Limits the number of ballots a person can have
The law aims to crack down on what critics call the “ballot harvesting” practice, which involves political agents collecting completed ballots from voters and handing them over. This practice has already been illegal in Miami-Dade County for many years.
The law restricts a person to owning two ballots other than his own, with the exception of immediate family members.
Republicans lifted the harvest ban in 2001. A statewide 2012 grand jury urged lawmakers to ban it again following cases of voter fraud in Miami, but this has generally been ignored until this year in the wake of Trump’s repeated claims about voter fraud.
Florida does not have a model of widespread voter fraud, but people have been charged sporadically. Miami mayoral race 1997 was knocked down after 55 people, including a Miami city commissioner and his chief of staff, were charged with voter fraud for manipulating mail-in ballots.
Bill expands definition of voter solicitation
Florida has already banned canvassing voters within a certain distance of polling stations, but the new law expands the ban to include areas around drop boxes and to include “engaging in any activity with intent to influence or influence a voter “.
It doesn’t go as far as Georgian law, which expressly prohibits distributing food or water to voters online, but critics say Florida’s provision could be interpreted to prevent such “line heating“Activities by groups.
Voting rights advocates have often set up food or water giveaways such as Pizza to the Polls in urban areas known for their long queues.
Ballot boxes are generally limited to early voting hours
About 1.5 million Floridians used drop boxes in the 2020 general election rather than relying on mail or dealing with crowds indoors during the pandemic.
With the exception of the secure drop boxes at the Election Supervisor’s office, the new law states that a box can only be used during a county’s first hours of voting. This provision means that some voters cannot use drop boxes for the very reason they would like to cast a ballot at night.
The law also requires that all drop boxes be monitored in person by an employee of the supervisor, an additional expense for taxpayer-funded polling stations. The bill creates a civil penalty of $ 25,000 for a supervisor who leaves a drop box open outside of early voting hours.
The impact of this provision will vary from county to county. The law does not change procedures in counties such as Miami-Dade, which provided drop boxes during the early hours of voting in 2020. But that will be a change for counties that rely on CCTV rather than CCTV. staff or offer more hours.
Palm Beach County provided 24/7 access to drop boxes at its four election offices that were monitored by sheriff’s office workers – but the new law only allows election workers to monitor polls. boxes. Palm Beach Election Supervisor Wendy Sartory Link said she would try to find election workers to work overtime to monitor clubs at night and on weekends, but there will be no access 24/7. The drop box at the main office was very busy in the weeks leading up to election day.
“It was constant – never more than 30 seconds without someone in a drop box, cars coming every day all day,” she said.
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