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Senate Approves Watered Down Election Reform Bill

April 26th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

The Florida Senate approved its election reform bill Monday.

While some of the more controversial aspects of the legislation didn’t make it in the final product, Democrats still expressed opposition.

Drop boxes would still be allowed, current mail ballot requests would still be honored and electronic signatures could still be used to validate mail ballots under the amended election reform bill.

“In Florida it is hard not to vote and I don’t believe that this bill takes that away,” said Senator Danny Burgess.

But future mail ballot requests would be limited to one election cycle instead of the current two and drop boxes would be limited to early voting hours.

Democrat Senator Janet Cruz said the result will be voter suppression.

“This is disingenuous. This is all about voter suppression. This is about making it harder for people, hard working folks, to get their butts to the polls,” said Cruz.

One thing both sides agree on is that Florida’s election was the gold standard in 2020.

Democrats said it shows there’s no need for the changes.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Senator Gary Farmer.

But Republicans argued there’s always room for improvement.

“It’s all about continuous improvement to make sure that we have a system that is going to work well to ensure that we have that safe, secure, transparent and fair election cycle,” said Senator Joe Gruters.

The legislation also closes a loophole that allowed candidates to run as an independent without holding the affiliation for at least a year before qualifying and codifies the Governor’s executive order in 2020, which allowed election supervisors to start counting mail ballots 35 to 40 days before an election instead of the current 22.

Whether the House will take up the Senate’s bill as-is is up in the air.

House sponsor Blaise Ingoglia indicated changes may be coming.

“There are some concerns I have with some of the language, some of the things that are in there, some of the things that are not in there,” said Ingoglia.

And the Senate sponsor was non-committal when asked if the changes made last week would stay in the final product.

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