Trial underway for Florida election law changes

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 6:56 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Monday was the first day of what is expected to be a two week trial over election law changes passed by lawmakers in 2021. The major issues being challenged are changes to drop boxes, vote by mail ballots, and who can return vote by mail ballots.

Election law changes made after 2020 have voting rights advocates in Federal Court crying foul.

“We don’t like to ascribe intent, but it’s odd this bill would move forward after so many voted by mail in record numbers” Brad Ashwell from All Voting is Local said.

As Senate Bill 90 moved through the 2021 session, Sponsor Dennis Baxley spoke up.

“I was very proud after going through some tough elections, that we had such a smooth one and I want to protect what is working well.”

The new law requires drop boxes at a supervisors office to be monitored by a person 24/7. Elsewhere, drop boxes can only be used during early voting hours.

“It’s a solution looking for a problem” Ashwell said.

He worries the legislation now before the Federal court will make voting harder.

“There is no question SB 90 makes it harder for people to vote, whether it be registering to vote, making it harder for third party voter registration groups to operate, or to vote by mail, making drop boxes less accessible” the voting rights activist said.

There are new requirements and notices that third party voting groups must give applicants when they sign up. That includes telling applicants their application might not get turned in on time.

League of Women Voters President Cecelia Scoon was the first to testify. She said that her volunteers were actually embarrassed when they have to tell a voter that the League may not turn in their application.

And while lawmakers are in the middle of their 2022 session, no major election overhaul legislation has been introduced yet, but Baxley said to stay tuned.

In 2020, nearly nine million Floridians voted early or by mail, while just one point nine million voted in person.