The New Status of Voting Rights in Florida
On May 6, 2021, the new Florida election laws were officially signed. Many revisions or amendments were made by the Florida legislature during their 2021 session. These revisions are surprising as Florida leaders praised the integrity of the elections in 2020 and called us a model for the nation, the gold standard. No one has been able to show evidence of any voter fraud in the last election in Florida, despite the historic turnout.
Some of the changes to the Florida election law include the identification required for registering, and for when changing your address, political party affiliation, and/or name. Now, everyone must have a Florida driver license number or Florida identification number, and must also use the last four digits of your social security number.
Any existing vote-by-mail request that has been submitted prior to May 6, 2021 will be sufficient for elections held through the end of the 2022 calendar year. In the future, a vote-by-mail request will need to be made for every general election, which will be every two years. This is just one of the added expenses for taxpayer-funded election offices. You may not receive a vote-by-mail ballot unless it has been requested. The supervisor may accept a written, an in-person, or a telephonic request for a vote-by-mail ballot. All written requests must include a signature. The new requirement is that all electors must provide the Florida drivers license number, Florida identification number, or the last four digits of your social security number to request a vote-by-mail ballot. Any change of address must be in written form with a signature and one of the identification numbers used above.
Helping seniors or the disabled with voting won’t be so easy now. Delivering vote-by-mail ballots for another person will be restricted to helping those in your immediate family plus two more. Any person who collects and delivers more ballots than what is legal will have committed a misdemeanor. This will exclude supervised voting at assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Drop box rules regarding their availability and the need for monitoring have been changed. Except for secure drop boxes at the election supervisor’s office, boxes can only be used during early voting hours. All drop boxes must be monitored by an employee of the supervisor. Another added expense to the taxpayer-funded election offices. Many of those who work full time in Collier will not be able to use these boxes.
There are multiple lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of our new elections law. This legislation will disproportionately affect the elderly, the disabled, and people of color. The League of Women Voters of Florida has joined with the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, and several individual Florida voters as plaintiffs. The NAACP Defense and Education Fund and Common Cause have jointly filed a federal lawsuit as the new law creates obstacles to voter access. The League of United Latin American Citizens is suing the state as well as requesting a U. S. Department of Justice investigation for violation of civil and criminal laws. These lawsuits challenge specific parts of the new law that suppress the right to vote. You cannot solve problems that do not exist.