The 2020 election was the most successful in our nation’s history. Florida saw record-high turnout, including the return of vote-by-mail ballots. Despite an unprecedented public health emergency in the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens cast their votes and made their voices heard in record numbers. And no matter how you feel about the results of the 2020 election in Florida, the number of people who successfully voted was extraordinary. This increased voter access was only made possible by dedicated election workers and smart, forward-thinking laws that increase the ease and accessibility of voting.
Unfortunately, Sen. Dennis Baxley’s SB 90 (R – Lady Lake) is a step backward. This bill will only lead to fewer people voting, and that is unacceptable.
SB 90 aims to limit the duration of requests for vote-by-mail ballots to all elections through the end of the calendar year of the next regularly scheduled general election. When you registered to vote by mail, the form asks you if you wanted to sign up for two cycles or one. Baxley’s bill would eliminate the option of signing up for two cycles, requiring the voter to sign up for a vote by mail ballot every year. Thousands of voters across the state have already signed up for VBM for two cycles (ending in 2022), and that was agreed upon by their local Supervisor of Elections Office. People could have signed up for just one election if they wanted; that’s an option. But they didn’t. They signed up for two. This bill will nullify that agreement and force voters to re-signup for 2022, adding to voter confusion and decreasing trust in our electoral process.
As currently written, SB 90 also aims to remove drop-off boxes from early voting sites. During the election, FCV and our partners encouraged Florida voters to use those boxes for convenience and safety. Almost everyone I knew used those boxes and the boxes. They are safe, secure, easy to use, and everyone who has ever early voted knows precisely where to go. Here in Leon County, the signs notifying early vote locations were everywhere in the run-up to the election.
Let me be clear: any bill that dials back voter access and education is, in effect, voter suppression.
Vote-by-mail is not a partisan issue. Bipartisan Supervisors of Elections came to Tallahassee to testify in opposition to SB 90. I encourage you to watch the March 10 Government Oversight and Accountability committee if you have the time. Additionally, the Association of Supervisors of Elections is “vehemently” against the bill.
One of FCV’s 2021 Legislative Priorities is to increase voter access to the ballot. This undemocratic voter suppression move looks to weaponize an element of our elections that has proved to work well. When legislators limit voting, they work to protect their power. FCV will continue to stand with our partners against this bad bill.