House’s proposed elections bill maintains drop boxes while improving ‘transparency’

ballots
The Senate version of the bill would ban drop boxes.

The House has unveiled its proposal to build on Florida’s election laws after what Republicans called a successful 2020 cycle.

The proposed committee bill touches on ballot security, maintains accessibility for voters and includes voting process transparency. That comes despite Republicans, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, touting Florida’s 2020 election cycle as one of the smoothest and most secure in recent history.

“By all accounts, Florida’s elections last year ran smoothly, and we’re looking to improve on our successes,” House Speaker Chris Sprowls said in a statement. “Florida has come a long way since the 2000 election cycle. Our progress is a result of consistent work to ensure that our elections processes are the best in the nation — we cannot stop now.”

Unlike the Senate version (SB 90), carried by Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley, the PCB would keep the existing ballot drop box legislation while adding monitoring requirements. Voting sites could only keep boxes available to the public during voting hours, and boxes must always be monitored, whether by Supervisor of Elections personnel, a law enforcement officer or a security camera.

DeSantis has asked the Legislature to prevent ballot harvesting by limiting the number of ballots a person can carry to a drop box, among other proposals. Per that request, people would have to show an ID and affirm that, if they don’t share an address with the voter as registered, they are an immediate family member.

People carrying a ballot that doesn’t belong to them or an immediate family member would face a first degree misdemeanor.

It would also prohibit elections offices from sending vote-by-mail ballots en masse without explicit requests from voters, requests that under the bill would have to be renewed every General Election cycle.

The measure also strives to place additional security on people’s voter registrations by requiring a driver’s license number or the last four digits of the voter’s Social Security Number in addition to the current name and date of birth requirement.

The bill would also prohibit those who administer elections from receiving private funding to conduct election activities. Additionally, Canvassing Board members’ names would have to be posted online.

The proposal comes out of the House Public Integrity and Elections Committee, chaired by Rep. Erin Grall, a Vero Beach Republican. Her committee will discuss the draft proposal in a meeting Monday morning.

“We must have confidence in our elections from start to finish and this bill will help build trust in our process,” she said. “Ballot security, transparency and accessibility are critical elements to a system that people can trust and want to participate in.”

Spring Hill Republican Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, who spearheaded the state’s original drop box law, will be sponsoring the bill.

“Only by continual reform to safeguard our election process will Florida continue to be a national leader in elections,” he said. “In recent years, Floridians have come to expect unassailable election protocols — and in turn we owe them only the best. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


One comment

  • charles

    March 18, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Only if drop boxes are video monitored and the person doing the drop off shows identification– like a ATM

Comments are closed.


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