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Get the latest coverage of the 2021 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Florida Elections Supervisor Calls Bill 'An Unnecessary Call For Election Reform'

Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

The legislation includes changes to how vote-by-mail works, limits secure drop box use, and restricts who can hand out food and water to voters in line.

The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature last week passed a bill that elections supervisors say will make it harder to vote.

SB90 passed the Florida Senate with a vote of 23-17 and the House, 77-40. Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it.

The president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections, Craig Latimer, in a statement called the bill "an unnecessary call for election reform."

“Elections ran smoothly, voters participated in record numbers, and election results were verified with audits in every county in Florida, as provided for in our current election law," the statement said.

Changes include restrictions on who can drop off a voter's ballot, requiring the location of a drop box to be chosen at least 30 days before an election and a requirement for election officials to supervise the drop boxes in person while they're open.

The measure also limits who can hand out items like food, water and election related materials to voters waiting in line to volunteers or staff working with the election supervisor. Items can't be given to voters within 150 feet of a ballot box.

The bill would also require voters to request mail-in ballots for each General Election.

Latimer, who is also the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, said legislators who both supported and opposed the bill commended the way Florida's elections were handled last year.

"The governor actually said other states should learn from what we do,” Latimer told WUSF. “But then the legislature set out to start making things a little bit more difficult."

After the 2020 General Election, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that we had “finally vanquished the ghosts of Bush vs. Gore."

Latimer did say that proposals that would have been the most disenfranchising, such as canceling vote by mail requests that voters currently have on file, were dropped from the final version of the bill.

He said legislators should be looking for for cost-effective ways to expand mail ballot drop box use, including the use of secure 24-hour drop boxes with camera surveillance. Instead, the new legislation prohibits that.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.
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