‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it:’ Florida Election officials react to newly passed elections bill

Election security bill makes it harder to vote by mail; election supervisors say it will slow the ballot counting process

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Election leaders in Central Florida are reacting to a newly passed elections security bill that would make it harder for voters to cast ballots by mail.

In Seminole County, Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson said his office is reviewing the bill and making plans for how to implement the changes.

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“The first thing that we’re going to do is we’re going to educate the voters and let them know here are the changes that are coming your way,” Anderson said.

The measure (SB 90) focuses largely on vote-by-mail process, mirroring in some aspects of proposals being considered or passed by other GOP-led legislatures throughout the country.

“We’re going to take a look at all the changes that were made.  Implement them, follow the rules and do what we can to lessen the blow to the voter if there is any at all,” Anderson said.

Some of the more controversial measures in the bill include the requirement of ballot drop boxes to be physically monitored at all times, those boxes only placed at Supervisor’s offices or early voting locations, and voters may only drop off ballots for themselves or immediate family members.

The bill has drawn fierce opposition from Democrats who said it would put up barriers to voting.

In Osceola County, Supervisor of Elections Mary Jane Arrington said the legislation is unnecessary.

“The old adage, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and this is what we’ve done,” Arrington said.  “The legislature has definitely made it inconvenient for voters to return their ballots through a drop box.”

The bill also requires absentee ballots to be requested for every election, it strengthens identification requirements for updating voter registration or applying for mail-in ballots, and it expands the no-solicitation zone by 50 feet.

Implementing the measures are expected to cost additional taxpayer dollars, primarily due to the hiring of additional staff.

“We’re going to have to have more staff to process requests that come in on a yearly basis now,” Arrington said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he intends to sign the bill into law.


About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.