TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – More than 100 people came to the state Capitol on Thursday to protest proposed new mail ballot requirements. The new restrictions being proposed come as uncertainty looms over last year’s changes, which are now tied up in federal court.
Senate Bill 524 would require more identifying information, such as a partial social security number or driver’s license number on mail-in ballots. It also creates an Office of Election Crimes and Security under Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“We want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” said Senate Ethics and Elections Chair Dennis Baxley. He said lawmakers are only trying to make the good better.
“We just owe it to the voters to make sure we maintain the integrity of that system, because we have close elections,” he added.
But more than 100 people showed up in Tallahassee to say don’t mess with my ballot.
Darryl Jones is the chair of the Leon County School Board and works with the NAACP. He told the crowd: “And far too many people sacrificed for us to have the vote, for us to allow anyone to suppress our vote.”
Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls Annette Taddeo and Nikki Fried also came to say no.
“It goes so far as to limit who can turn in a vote-by-mail ballot,” said Taddeo. “Could it be because Democrats are outvoting Republicans in vote-by-mail?”
Fried had this warning for DeSantis.
“Gov, this ain’t your job. Turn on your blinker and get back in your lane. Let the legislature do this,” she said.
Many of the groups at the rally filed a lawsuit against last year’s Senate Bill 90. That trial is in its third week.
The bills have one more committee hearing in each chamber, and we are told there are talks behind the scenes to hammer out some of the differences in the legislation.
Changes being proposed this year to require more identification on mail ballots, if passed, would not kick in until the 2024 election cycle, but other things such as an elections investigations office could be in place by November.