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Voting By Mail In Florida Could Get Tougher

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One of the 2021 legislative session’s most-controversial issues, a sweeping elections package that would make it harder for Floridians to vote by mail, is headed to the Senate floor for a vote.

One of the most contentious issues in the bill addresses drop boxes, which became a flashpoint last year after local elections supervisors wrangled with Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration over the boxes’ locations and whether they were required to be staffed in person.

The Senate bill would allow supervisors to use drop boxes during early voting hours, so long as the boxes are manned by elections office employees. Sponsor Dennis Baxley says the goal of his bill is to prevent election issues before they happen.

“It’s the safety and security of our system,” said Baxley. “We are foolish if we don’t look around the country and see things that we could do that make this more reliable.”

The legislation comes after Florida Democrats for the first time outnumbered Republicans in voting by mail in the November election. Critics of the measure, including Senator Gary Farmer, have repeatedly asked why the bill is necessary, given Florida’s successful election last year.

“This bill does go too far. It will result in potential disenfranchisement, contends Farmer.

A House version of the bill is also ready for a floor vote. It would make it more difficult to drop off mail-in ballots, by requiring people to show ID when they submit ballots at drop boxes, or provide a written statement that they have permission to submit other voters’ ballots.