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Since Florida last voted for a president in 2020, the state Legislature has passed three major election reform bills that supporters say have enhanced voter integrity, but critics argue that the reforms restrict voter access to the polls.
As the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature prepares to gather in January for the two-month 2024 session, one supervisor of elections had a simple request to a group of state lawmakers on Monday.
“Stay the course. Status quo,” said Pasco County Republican Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley, as he addressed the seven-member Pasco County legislative delegation in west central Florida, north of Tampa. “We ask that there be no substantive changes be made to Florida’s election code in the upcoming legislative session.”
That’s the sentiment of the entire Florida supervisors of elections association, says Lake County Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays.
“Brian is correct,” Hays told the Phoenix in an email. “Our association is asking the legislators to not make substantive changes this coming session.”
Corley went on to tell the group of all Republican lawmakers who attended Monday at Pasco-Hernando State College in New Port Richey that they had “done some great things to shore up election security” in the past three legislative sessions, but there was no need to do more as Florida votes on a president and U.S. Senate next year.
After Florida’s 2020 presidential election, where Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden by more than three percentage points, Republicans such as Gov. Ron DeSantis hailed the election as a success.
But after Republicans in states such as Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin demanded election reforms in the wake of Trump’s losses in those states, the Florida GOP came back in 2021 to pass SB 90 , which included a ban on drop boxes and other measures. Several Republican supervisors of elections said that wasn’t necessary.
That was followed up with SB 524 in 2022, which included the creation of a special force to investigate elections, and then earlier this year, SB 7050. All three were major election reform measures that were denounced by Democrats and voting rights groups who say the measures were intended to limit access to the ballot box.
SB 7050 shortens the deadline for third party voting registration groups to deliver registration forms to supervisors of elections under from 14 days under the old law to just 10, with fines of $50 per each day one is delivered late, up to a maximum of $2,500. If the forms are turned in after the voter rolls close for a particular election, the fines shoot up to $100 per day, up to $5,000. And if the organization never delivers a form at all, the fine is $500 per application or $5,000 if the failure is willful.
The League of Women Voters of Florida and the League of Women Voters Education Fund filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Ashley Moody and Secretary of State Cord Byrd in May for the passage of SB 7050, claiming that the restrictions it poses on third-party voting registration groups is in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. In July, a federal judge declined to temporarily block two provisions of the law.
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