Florida’s revised election bill’s vote postponed

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 5:51 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - After a three-and-a-half-hour hearing Wednesday, time ran out before a Senate committee in the State Capitol could vote on a controversial election reform bill.

It doesn’t necessarily mean the bill is in trouble, at least not yet.

Ballot drop boxes are allowed under the newly revised legislation, but only during the same hours as early voting.

There is also a new provision that requires election supervisors to keep on file what is being called a ‘wet’ signature.

“Wet signature means a signature the voter physically signs with a pen on paper,” said State Senator Jeff Brandes.

Brandes and other opponents argue the requirement will force millions of voters to visit their local supervisor.

“So you’re okay wiping out a million voters potentially off the roles because their only fault is they followed the current law which allows a digital signature and not a wet signature,” said Brandes to bill sponsor Dennis Baxley during the Wednesday hearing.

The new wet-signature requirement is giving supervisors heartburn.

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“The language needs to be improved. It’s just very confusing,” said Mark Earley. Vice President of the Florida Supervisors of Elections. “Some supervisors think for the first four years you can use the Highway Safety digital signature, I think Senator Baxley just said we couldn’t so that’s kinda the worst position to be in.”

The revision also honors voters who have standing mail ballot requests through 2024.

They will stand, but after July, new requests will be good only for the current election cycle.

Opponents were adamant in their argument the bill isn’t needed.

“Why should we as a state attempt to reduce their right of a person to exercise their right to vote?” said State Senator Audrey Gibson.

But Baxley argued nothing is further from the truth.

“We’re gonna always work to make it usable and workable for voters,” said Baxley.

One change supported by most on the committee Wednesday is a provision making it harder for shadow candidates to enter races as a spoiler.

Most enter as a no-party candidate, but the new law will say they must have been a no-party candidate for at least a year before running.

The legislation won’t come back up in the Senate again this week.

When it is brought back up, it will likely be just for the vote.

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