Critics fear voter suppression as restrictions on drop boxes and ballot validity pose challenges
Florida's Senate Bill 90, passed in 2021, draws attention as it introduces significant changes to the vote-by-mail process, potentially affecting voters during the upcoming 2024 election. With restrictions on drop boxes and a reduction in the validity of vote-by-mail ballots, election officials express concern about its impact on voter participation.
Critics argue that these changes could exacerbate voter suppression, particularly for disabled individuals or those without access to transportation. Get the full story below.
Limits on vote-by-mail requests pose challenges
One prominent amendment in Senate Bill 90 commands that all vote-by-mail requests must be submitted before November 8 in preparation for the 2024 election. Previously, vote-by-mail ballots remained valid for two elections, offering convenience for voters. However, the new law reduces the validity period to only a single election, raising concerns about its potential impact on voter turnout.
Lee County election officials have expressed concern about the low number of voters who requested new ballots after the change took effect. Previously, approximately 212,000 voters in the county cast their ballots by mail during the 2020 general election. However, only 23,000 voters in Lee County have requested a new ballot after the amendment. This difference raises alarms, suggesting a possible decline in voter engagement for the 2024 election.
Concerns about voter suppression
Critics argue that the new law has the potential to suppress voter engagement, particularly among vulnerable populations. Disabled individuals and those without access to transportation often rely on voting by mail as their main mode of participation. However, the law's restriction on the ballots validity may pose significant challenges for these individuals. If they are unaware of the new regulations or unable to visit a polling site, it will severely affect their ability to vote or, worse, be denied altogether.
Supervisor of Elections Tommy Doyle highlighted the importance of this form of voting as an "insurance policy" for voters, especially during unanticipated circumstances like natural disasters. With Florida's susceptibility to hurricanes, voting-by-mail provides a safety net for voters facing obstacles in reaching polling locations during emergencies.
Visit the Vote By Mail Information website to renew the vote-by-mail request.