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Vote: Florida legislature passes elections bill that adds restrictions
After days of controversial debate and last-minute amendments bouncing between chambers, the Republican-controlled House and Senate have reached a deal and party line votes have approved Senate Bill 90 in the day before the last day of the legislative session in Florida.

If signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, the bill would create restrictions such as adding new identity and signature requirements for voting by mail, limiting the number of people who can return a ballot. completed mail-in voting, expanding the observation power of supporters when compiling ballots and creating additional restrictions on the use of the drop box.

DeSantis has previously expressed support for the measures in previous versions of the bill, but his office did not respond to CNN on whether he will sign the legislation.

The bill is part of a nationwide Republican-led effort to restrict access to state-level voting following a record turnout in last November’s election. A tally by New York University’s left-wing Brennan Center for Justice found that 361 bills containing provisions restricting voting had been tabled in 47 states as of March 24.

Over the past month, the effort to restrict voting has intensified as state legislatures begin to head into the final months of their respective sessions.

“This bill is just a vindictive way of trying to punish people for an election that some people just didn’t like nationally,” Democrat Senator Audrey Gibson said during one of the many moving debates on legislation. week.

Perhaps the most significant changes in the bill relate to limits and restrictions on the ballot box, used by an estimated 1.5 million Florida voters in the 2020 election.

The legislation reduces access to drop boxes by limiting their use to early voting hours, unless they are located at the offices of election supervisors. All drop boxes should always be manned in person by office workers of election supervisors if in use. The bill also requires supervisors to define and publish drop box locations 30 days before the election. These locations cannot be moved for any purpose.

The continued public fallout from the Georgia electoral review bill in March was frequently mentioned by Democrats during the debate, calling the Florida bill a “Jim Crow rebirth in this state.”

“This bill that was passed in the state just north of us sent a message to us, and the response to this bill should let us know that we shouldn’t be doing it,” the Democratic representative said. Michael Greico during the House debate, pleading, “Please don’t handle my Florida.”

Florida Republicans, who have repeatedly acknowledged that Florida held a successful and secure election in 2020, said the bill would provide “guard rails” to prevent anyone from “playing with the system” in the process. ‘to come up.

“This is a phased legislative approach to solving these problems, similar to what we had to do to solve the problem of speed, to solve the problem of efficiency – we are now working to make sure that every vote is a valid vote “. said State Representative Wyman Duggan, a Republican who is a member of the House’s Public Integrity and Elections Committee.

Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo took umbrage at Democrats’ voter suppression accusations, saying, “I don’t agree that we’re trying to somehow restrict voting. There is has more ways to vote in Florida, and a longer opportunity in just about any state in the nation. You all know that. “

Several of the more restrictive measures behind the bill have been watered down, but Democrats stressed that what’s left will likely have the biggest impact on low-income and older voters, voters of color and individuals. with disabilities.

“I think it will target people of color. It will affect them,” Democratic Senator Randolph Bracy told CNN.

“The SB 90 is a blatant violation of Floridians’ free voting rights and represents a direct reaction to last year’s record turnout,” said Florida State Director for All Votes Brad Ashwell, in a statement after the bill passed in the House Thursday night. . “By erecting heavy barriers to requesting and returning a postal vote, this legislature has made voting a test of endurance and resources rather than a declaration of civic responsibility.”

During the indoor sessions, Democrats have often called the bill an unfunded mandate, arguing that it requires more work that will likely require more manpower for the offices of election supervisors, but does not include no additional funding for them. The law also prohibits county offices from taking private funds to hold elections.

People who want to vote by mail now have to request ballots every election cycle, rather than every two cycles. An eleventh-hour deal between the two chambers has made grandfather in voters who are already on the demand list until the 2022 election.

Another SB 90 measure that critics say will have a disproportionate impact on low-income voters and voters of color is tighter limits on who can pick up and return a voter’s ballot on their behalf. The bill says that a person can only be in possession of their own ballot, one ballot from an immediate family member and two more per electoral cycle. Immediate family includes grandchildren, but not other extended family members or caregivers. Democrats said their failed attempts to change the language from immediate family to family must better represent the dynamics of the immigrant family, which often includes extended family members at home.

Under SB 90, Floridians will be required to provide their Florida driver’s license, state identification numbers, or the last four digits of their Social Security number when requesting ballots in the mail, changing their affiliations or party names.

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