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Election reforms advance in the Florida house

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 5:48 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAP NEWS/WCJB) - The 2020 election was once of the safest and securest in Florida history, but lawmakers are still looking to make changes to the state’s election laws.

Preventing ballot harvesting and increasing transparency and security of vote by mail are the focus of a bill approved by its first House committee Monday.

The sponsor of the House’s election reform legislation agrees, Florida’s 2020 election was a success.

“And we should never pass up an opportunity to make a good thing even better,” said Representative Blaise Ingoglia.

The bill would prevent election supervisors from taking private grants.

“Elections are a function of government and government should be paying for it,” said Ingoglia.

It would also require mail ballots be requested each election cycle instead of every other cycle, but requests made before July 1st 2021 would still be honored.

Mail ballot drop boxes would have to be monitored at all times and only family members or a roommate could drop off another person’s ballot.

Democrats worry those limitations don’t account for all situations.

“There’s no allowance for a guardian in here, there’s no allowance for a caregiver,” said Rep. Allison Tant.

The sponsor said the goal is to crack down on ballot harvesting.

“We just got to make sure that we’re not opening it up where any one just signs a piece of paper saying that I’m the caregiver for this person and they can return the ballot. We don’t want to turn it into the fireworks where people sign saying they’re not going to do it and they do it anyway,” said Ingoglia.

One major concern from election supervisors is that the bill would require all mail ballot signatures to be posted online so they could be reviewed and potentially challenged by other voters.

“I think that opens up great opportunities, very bad opportunities, for identity theft,” said Leon County Election Supervisor and Vice President of the Florida Supervisors of Elections Mark Earley.

The sponsor did say he’s willing and preparing to make changes to the bill to address concerns.

Democrats indicated if enough changes are made, they could potentially support the legislation.

The Senate version of the legislation is far more restrictive.

It would ban mail ballot drop boxes altogether.

It also doesn’t grandfather in outstanding mail ballot requests like the House version.

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