Eyeing 2022, Florida Charges Ahead with Voting Reforms

Sweeping election reform bills are being proposed across the country following the 2020 presidential election.

Among them is Florida Senate Bill 90. The bill establishes that voters who wish to vote by mail must present information in a secure and expedient manner. 

Promoters of the bill state that by reforming Florida election laws there will be far fewer opportunities for fraud and election interference. According to Florida Senate Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield the bill will help “safeguard against abuse and continue to maintain the integrity of our free and fair elections.”

Critics of the bill challenge the emphasis it places on the elimination of ballot drop boxes across the state.

Any legislation that is passed could have a huge impact on elections, both large and small. Neighboring Georgia recently passed its own election reform measures. Both states is well-known for having high-profile and competitive races and carries a large number of delegates for presidential elections.

Florida has received glowing praise from both Democrats as well as Republicans for the secure 2020 presidential election. However, proponents of the bill protest the possible removal of ballot drop boxes.

According to the League of Women Voters, removal of the drop boxes increases the likelihood of voter suppression and safe and secure ways to vote.

Party disagreements

In addition to the disagreement about the removal of ballot boxes, another bone of contention is proposed changes to how mail ballots are requested and how long the request is good for. 

Under current Florida law, once a voter has requested a vote-by-mail ballot a ballot is automatically sent for two general elections. Republicans, led by Governor Ron DeSantis and state Senator Dennis Baxley, chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, want to make requests for mail ballots valid for only one calendar year.

On the Democrat side, state Senator Gary Farmer has pointedly spoken out against any proposed changes.

Reforms, he contends, are “nothing short of a massive voter suppression campaign.”

He and other Democrats also argue that the reason Republicans have put forward changes to voting laws is because Democrats have more than 800,000 more voters who registered for mail-in ballots in the 2020 presidential election.

Republicans fear that this will affect the vote in the 2022 gubernatorial election. 

The GOP argues that the proposed bill is not aimed at suppressing Democratic election turn-out but instead is intended to improve public confidence in election integrity. 

More than 40 states are proposing more than 250 laws that address voting changes. This year may prove to be a year for litigation when it comes to voting laws.