TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Senate Rules Committee today voted to pass Senate Bill 90 (SB 90), which aims to restrict Floridians’ access to vote-by-mail. The bill creates unnecessary hurdles to voter access, such as criminalizing giving food and water to voters in line and imposing restrictions on secure vote-by-mail drop boxes. It also requires voters to submit vote-by-mail requests twice as often than is currently required.
If passed into law, the bill would set additional barriers for working and mobility-impaired Floridians who cannot retrieve or turn in their ballot themselves. The bill does not provide any funding for Supervisors of Elections who would need to inform and educate voters of these changes prior to the 2022 elections.
Kirk Bailey, political director of the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following statement:
“Millions of Florida voters have demonstrated their commitment and capability to safely vote by mail in the past election season. Whether they mailed in their ballots or used a drop-box, Floridians turned out to exercise their right to vote in record numbers to ensure their voices were heard despite the pandemic. There is no reason to believe that Florida’s elections were administered in any way but safely and securely.
“Instead of working to further streamline our state’s capacity to administer elections, certain legislators are seeking to suppress access to voting. SB 90 does nothing more than make it harder for Floridians to vote and threaten them with criminal liability. And if passed into law, this would not be an idle threat. This bill makes no provisions for the additional funding required to support Supervisors of Elections with their work to inform and educate eligible Florida voters of these changes. Without that funding, the unnecessary changes made by this bill would unlikely reach the ears of over 14 million Florida voters before the start of the 2022 election season. Working people, elderly citizens, and people with mobility impairments should not be frightened to ask family and friends for their help to cast their vote.
“Additionally, the bill makes it unlawful to pass out water or food to individuals waiting in line to vote. Nonpartisan volunteers should not have to risk jail time for passing out water bottles to voters standing in long lines. Florida voters should not be forced to choose between staying in line or risking dehydration in the Florida heat. Simply put, no argument can justify the inclusion of this language, other than to make it more difficult for Floridians to vote at the polls.
“It is beyond disappointing that the Senate Rules Committee approved the bill today and has brought this bill one step closer to becoming law. Florida should not become the new national headline this election season simply because certain legislators refuse to uphold the fundamental right to vote.”