Florida vote-by-mail bill could undergo more changes before vote

Sen. Dennis Baxley’s bill would require voters to request ballots every year

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Across the country lawmakers in 47 states are considering legislation to change the way people vote, including Florida Senate Bill 90 that would reshape the way vote-by-mail ballots are collected.

Several pastors in Central Florida have already raised concerns about SB 90 and the impact it would have on minority communities.

Republican State Sen. Dennis Baxley, who introduced the bill, said there’s still more to be done before his bill can move forward.

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The Senate committee on rules is set to discuss the bill at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday but Baxley says the rules committee vote will likely be postponed.

“We’re working on some other input that people have given and also our matchup with the House and how we’re lining up with their bill,” Baxley said. “I think we’re exploring some ideas.”

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If passed, the bill could require voters to re-up their requests for a vote by mail ballot every year, instead of every 2 years.

“I think we need to constantly update that voter file so that we know we have the right addresses,” Baxley said.

Even though changes to his bill could be on the way, Baxley said he also has questions about vote by mail ballots. It’s a method used by many Floridians in the 2020 election.

“The question with the drop boxes is why do we need that? This is a mail-in voting system so why are we using drop boxes except at the secure sites?” Baxley said.

Critics say it’s a move to create more obstacles for voters, particularly minority voters.

“What you’re going to see reduced voting which is the last thing we want,” said Patricia Brigham from the League of Women’s Voters of Florida.

She said it could mean more work for election leaders across the state. That’s a perspective Orange county elections supervisor Bill Cowles said he agrees with.

“And the supervisors are going to have to spend a lot of money contacting voters to let them know, ‘hey, you’re vote by mail status needs to be updated and you’re going to have to update it every single year,’” said Brigham.

Democratic State senator Randolph Bracy also opposes the bill.

“It’s going to restrict access to voting,” Bracy said. “It’s clearly a voter suppression measures.”

News 6 will keep you posted as the bill moves through the Senate.

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