How to make sure your vote still counts, despite new Florida elections bill

Investigations

In this Sept. 8, 2020 photo, voting booths are kept socially distant at the Chesterfield, N.H. polling site. A majority of President Donald Trump’s supporters plan to cast their ballot on Election Day, while about half of Joe Biden’s backers plan to vote by mail. That’s according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that finds 54% of voters say they will vote before polls open on Nov. 3. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – One signature now stands between you and a handful of new restrictions on voting.  

The Florida legislature has approved a broad elections bill, which Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign into law.  

The impact will be significant, according to elections officials.

8 On Your Side is laying out the top three biggest changes so you’re not caught off guard and your vote still counts.

Florida ran a smooth election in 2020, arguably one of the best in the country, but Republicans say they want to make our elections even more secure.

On Thursday, the GOP-controlled legislature approved a bill that adds new restrictions to how you cast a ballot.

State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia of Hernando County, along with State Senator Dennis Baxley are the bill’s sponsors.

Democrats have argued the purpose of this bill is to make it tougher for some people to vote.  

Craig Latimer supervises elections in Hillsborough County and heads the association representing Florida’s 67 elections officials.

“It’s going to cause double work on our staff,” said Latimer.

“In your view, are these changes necessary?” asked investigator Mahsa Saeidi.

These changes were not necessary,” said Latimer. “This was a solution looking for a problem.”

Here’s what you need to know about the new rules.

First, you’ll have to request to vote-by-mail more often.  Before it was every four years, now, it will be every two years.

You’ll need to make a new request to vote-by-mail for each election.

“If they haven’t signed up for the ’22 election, they need to do that now,” said Latimer.

The new law will also limit the use of drop boxes.

You’ll no longer be able to drop off your ballot after hours at early voting sites.

You may be able to do late drop-offs at supervisor’s offices under one condition.

“If you have a 24-hour drop box, it has to be staffed the entire 24 hours,” said Latimer. “It’s another.. cost that you’re going to have to pay.”

Finally, the new law limits who can collect and drop off ballots.

For each election, you can only drop off ballots for immediate family members and two others.

Latimer said this will likely impact the elderly.

“If you got a caregiver that’s taking care of people, that’s it, they can only have two ballots other than their own,” said Latimer.

We contacted the bill’s sponsors explaining how elections officials believe this unnecessary, expensive and restrictive.

State Rep. Ingoglia and State Senator Baxley did not get back to us. 

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