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GOP-backed bills would propose voting changes including eliminating drop boxes

Several bills in the Florida Legislature would create change for people choosing to vote by mail.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Some Florida lawmakers are filing legislation similar to controversial voting changes that became law in Georgia.

The proposals impact voting by mail and what election volunteers can and can’t do when interacting with electors.

President Trump repeatedly attacked mail-in ballots ahead of the November 2020 election and made numerous false claims there was a higher change of voter fraud.

What was true is that there was heavy turnout of mail-in votes due to the pandemic and Democrats. In previous elections, Republicans did better voting by mail.

Now they are trying to make changes.

“The great irony is for the first time in probably many decades, Florida was viewed as a success in the 2020 general election as far as getting our results out quickly and clearly,” UNF political science professor Mike Binder said the state has a long history of using mail-in or absentee ballots.

GOP lawmakers propose eliminating drop boxes and requiring voters to sign up each election for a mail-in ballot.

“Based on the quantity of mail ballots that happened in 2020, with Democrats having such a huge advantage. Republicans are in a position to say, ‘Hey, we don't want to start with Democrats having that big of an advantage. Let's wipe the slate clean,’” Binder said.

It is one of several changes proposed throughout the state legislature.

Senate Bill 7041 includes a proposal that volunteers handing anything to a voter in line, including food or water, would be charged with a misdemeanor.

“I guess the supposed argument is that you might be bribing somebody to vote," Binder said. "I'm not sure if I even buy that, there's zero evidence of any of that happening."

That’s part of the law that passed in Georgia and has led to several lawsuits since.

Mike Binder, a political science professor at UNF, said research shows long voting lines are often found in urban areas with non-white voters, which tend to vote Democrat.

As long as volunteers are not buying someone’s vote, it is legal to hand out food and water.

Binder feels it should be allowed.

“If you're standing outside and you're willing to suffer through hours of lines to vote," Binder said. "It shouldn't be that way but when it is you don't want to make it even worse.”