House Republicans’ election changes move forward

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In 2020, Election Day turned out to be election month, as many battleground states took weeks to count and post results; but not Florida.

As the largest battleground state, Florida had almost all of its results counted and posted by the time Americans went to bed on Tuesday November 3rd. The election was such a success that Governor Ron DeSantis boasted that other states could learn a thing or two from how Florida conducted its election, saying, “I think that’s how elections should be run.”

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Despite this efficiency and success, Florida Republicans are now backing two bills, one in the Senate and one in the house, that would make significant changes to voting, specifically vote by mail.

“We want to keep the current infrastructure when it comes to drop boxes but just make sure they’re more safe and secure and there are more guardrails on them,” said Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R - Spring Hill).

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The House bill (PCB PIE 21-05), which passed the Public Integrity and Elections Committee on Monday, would keep in place drop boxes, which were widely used in 2020, but require that they be monitored around the clock.  It would also limit who can drop off a completed vote by mail ballot, require ballots be enclosed in a secrecy envelope, and reduce the time that a VBM request is active from the current 4-years to 2-years.

“The intent of the legislation is to increase security without putting any undue burdens on supervisors of elections,” said Ingoglia.

“We really didn’t see this bill until Thursday morning and it caught a lot of us by surprise,” said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley. “I’m concerned about many aspects of this bill including digitizing signatures and potentially putting those on the Internet where they could be exposed. I think that opens up great opportunities, bad opportunities for identity theft.”

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It is on vote by mail signatures, where supervisors like Earley say the bill creates new burdens that can be used for nefarious means, allowing observers to challenge the validity of any signature.

While the house bill is similar the Senate elections bill (SB 90) it differs in on major way; the Senate version would eliminate drop boxes, something that both Republican and Democratic supervisors of elections says is unnecessary and unwarranted.