Florida lawmakers are considering a ban on drop boxes to collect mail-in and absentee ballots over concerns that the boxes are not secure.
State Sen. Dennis Baxley, the Republican chair of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, introduced updated legislation on election reforms on Tuesday that included the ban. His committee evaluated and passed the proposed legislation on Wednesday, setting it up for consideration by the body, according to CNN.
Baxley said the ban was added to the legislation over concerns that the drop boxes were not being monitored closely enough, leaving too much risk for fraud in the state’s elections.
Baxley called the drop boxes “a real security concern,” adding, “I just want to maintain that chain of evidence from the time they vote to the time until they get counted so we don’t have a mishap,” according to Politico.
The package included a slew of other election reforms. The bill, if it is passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, “would also prohibit anyone other than an immediate family member from picking up a voter’s ballot and would require vote-by-mail ballots to be requested each election cycle, rather than every two cycles. It increases the identification requirements to request a ballot by mail over the phone and prevents elections supervisors from sending ballots to voters without a request,” CNN reports.
The move by Florida’s legislature comes on the heels of similar reforms being passed by Georgia’s Senate. Republican lawmakers are pushing election reforms following the chaos of the 2020 election and substantial mistrust of the election process.
Republicans argue that such reforms as restricting the use of mail-in ballots and requiring voter identification are necessary to restore the public’s trust in elections. Democrats in Georgia are attempting to brand the reforms as voter suppression.
As The Daily Wire reported:
Democrats have charged that the bill is a Republican attempt to suppress voting after the party lost two January runoff elections for U.S. Senate seats. Former state representative and failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams likened the legislation to “Jim Crow” segregation laws. She also accused the GOP of expressly trying to suppress black voters.
“We are seeing again and again this version of Jim Crow in a suit and tie,” Abrams told Mother Jones. “It is designed explicitly for the same reason as Jim Crow did, to block communities of color from active participation in choosing the leadership that will guide their democracy.”
State Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, a Republican, denied allegations from Democrats. Dugan said that the regulations would take pressure off of election officials tasked with tabulating votes after Georgia saw a historic turnout in recent elections, pushed by a surge in absentee mail-in votes. If the law is signed, millions of Georgians will still be eligible to vote absentee if they choose, he said.
“All this is doing is laying the groundwork to relieve some of the stresses we’ll continue to see moving forward as we continue to grow,” Dugan said, according to the Journal-Constitution.
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