New bill could change mail-in voting rules for Florida voters

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new bill—introduced in Tallahassee on Tuesday— could change how often registered voters have to request a mail-in ballot.

Action News Jax Courtney Cole explains what it would require voters to do and the progress its made at the State Capitol.

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Senate Bill 90, sponsored by Republican Senator Dennis Baxley, would require voters to request a mail-in ballot every year.

Since we’re coming out of an of an election cycle with a record-number of mail-in ballots, some worry this proposed bill would confuse or even discourage voters from participating.

Under Florida current law, when voters request a mail-in ballot from their local supervisor of elections – it’s valid through two election cycles – or up to four years.

On Tuesday, SB90 was approved by the Florida Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, 5-to-4.

To put that into perspective: that means the 4.8 million Floridians who voted by mail in November 2020—all of them would have to re-apply, in order to vote-by-mail in the 2022 gubernatorial election.

“Personally, I think that he needs to rethink the bill,” said Dr. Rafielle Usher.

Usher said he understands the concerns around voter fraud.

Although, it should be noted there was no proof of voter fraud in the 2020 general election— despite countless failed lawsuits by former President Trump’s campaign.

“As a matter of fact, my personal solution would be, what every other country does, is just get a thumbprint. Everybody has a thumb, or a finger, and you can validate it pretty simple. Run it through a database, if this person is illegal, it’ll show up,” Dr. Usher explained to Action News Jax Courtney Cole.

According to Mike Hogan, the Duval County Supervisor of Elections, in 2020 General Election: 187,000 ballots were mailed out to voters and 49,000 ballots not returned or invalid for another reason. (i.e. wrong address, bad signature.)

That’s in comparison to Duval’s 2016 General Election: There were 104,800 ballots mailed out to voters and nearly 30,000 returned late, had a bad signature or were invalid for another reason.

For some voters like Blanche Johnson, she plans to just vote in-person instead.

“With all the political stuff in the last election, I will be kind of leery that me not doing it in person, it’s not getting counted,” Johnson said.

SB 90 would also change when mail-in ballots could be counted – from 22 days before the election, to between 35-40.

While this bill may be getting attention because of  our political climate, Supervisor of Elections Hogan told Cole this is nothing new.

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How frequently voters have had to ask for a mail-in ballot has changed multiple times over the last 20 years.

Hogan said cost could also come into play if this were to become the requirement going forward.

In the November 2020 election – it cost well over $50,000 of tax payer money to send out the ballots.