TALLAHASSEE, FL - On Wednesday, the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee voted to approve Senate Bill 90, which would severely restrict Floridians’ access to vote-by-mail.
The bill forces voters to submit vote-by-mail requests more often than is currently required, a completely unnecessary administrative hurdle. It retroactively cancels voters’ current vote-by-mail ballot requests, meaning a voter who submitted a request last year thinking it was valid through next year will need to submit a new request. Further, this bill makes it a crime for voters to ask a trusted friend or caregiver to pick up or drop off a vote-by-mail ballot, limiting voting access for working and mobility-impaired Floridians who cannot retrieve or turn in their ballot themselves.
SB 90 also creates unnecessary and burdensome election administration challenges, including eliminating secure vote-by-mail drop boxes and prohibiting ballot collection, despite the challenges Floridians have faced during the covid-19 pandemic. Because the bill includes no money for informing and educating voters that their existing vote-by-mail requests have been voided for the 2022 elections, SB 90 imposes an unfunded mandate on Supervisors of Elections, who will have to spend $14 to 16 million to let voters know about the change.
Kirk Bailey, political director of the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following statement:
“Approximately 4.8 million voters in Florida cast their ballots by mail in 2020, in the highest turnout election we’ve had for decades. More than 1.5 million Floridians used a drop-box during the 2020 Election to safely, conveniently, and securely return their ballot. Senate Bill 90 makes administering elections in Florida more burdensome and unnecessarily difficult. Local Supervisors of Elections throughout the state overwhelmingly oppose this bill because they know it will make it harder to vote and harder to run elections. Florida simply does not need more laws that make it more challenging for people to vote or threaten them with criminal liability.
“Laws like SB 90 are a part of a nationwide voter suppression wave that is a direct response to citizens exercising their fundamental right to vote. These lawmakers have one goal in mind: to make it more difficult for people to vote.
“Florida legislators should work to make elections more accessible, not erect barriers designed to suppress democracy.”