Bill Expanding Voting Access for Deployed Military Appears Blocked

Apr 28, 2014

A bill that gives expanded voting access to military personnel serving overseas appears to be blocked in the Florida House of Representatives.

As Supervisor of Elections for Okaloosa County,  home to Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, Paul Lux advocated for the bill that expands military voting access.

Soldiers are encouraged to register to vote, and to also vote, during an election. However, there are rules that spell out what soldiers can do in the way of campaigning, or participation in other kinds of political activity.
Credit The Army News Service

“As we know, some deployed troops have trouble getting access to ballots,” Lux said.

He added an option that more and more deployed military personnel are using is the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB).

But Florida law doesn’t allow the FWAB to be used for state and local issues which is what Lux is trying to change.

“Unless they’re using the ballot we send them, the military are currently unable to vote on ballot initiatives, constitutional amendments,” Lux said. “I mean if they’re property owners, even local tax initiatives, they’re not going to be able to use a FWAB to vote on.”

The bill he advocated for, HB215, would allow Florida voters to use the federal write-in absentee ballot to vote on those local ballot initiatives and state constitutional amendments.

Lux acknowledged that there were concerns about any controversial election bill that. So, he said HB215 was very narrowly drafted to address only this one issue. And he said nothing was added to the bill as it moved through three house committees without objection.

An identical version passed the senate.

But on the house side, HB 215 has been sitting since March 4 waiting to be put on the house calendar for a second reading and vote.

Lux said he’s heard no objections from his fellow elections supervisors or from lawmakers. So, he wants to know why the bill has been left to languish.

As of late this afternoon, WUSF had not received a return call from the office of the Speaker of the House, Rep. Will Weatherford, on HB 215.