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Democrats, Religious Leaders Oppose Florida Elections Bill

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Religious leaders, representatives of numerous progressive groups and elected Democrats gathered outside the state capitol Thursday, in opposition to legislation they say would lead to voter suppression.

Bills moving in the House and Senate would create sweeping election changes, largely focused on making it more difficult for people to vote by mail.

Earlier this week, a House committee passed legislation requiring voters to request mail-in ballots during each general election cycle. The bill would also impose limits on the use of drop boxes by requiring that the boxes be staffed and only available for ballot drop-offs during regular early voting hours.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Florida’s only Democrat elected statewide, says the measure would impact the state’s most disadvantaged citizens.

“This bill does nothing good, but harm and silences the people who need a voice at the table. We must stand together, united, to fight voter suppression," she said.

A similar Senate bill would eliminate drop boxes altogether. Speaking at a committee meeting recently, Senate bill sponsor Dennis Baxley said his legislation aims to improve on the success of Florida’s 2020 election, which was widely praised as successful.

“We had a great journey. What can we do to improve that election security? That’s what we are after.”

Baxley’s legislation has one more committee stop before it can be considered by the full Senate. The House bill has two more committees of reference before it reaches the floor of the chamber. Friday marks the end of the 4th week of the nine-week legislative session.