HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — There was a heated debate in the Florida House of Representatives about HB 7041, a bill that could toughen voting laws in the state.
Republicans who support the proposed legislation say it’s additional security for Florida’s elections.
Democrats who are opposed to the bill believe it complicates the voting process for Floridians.
“It is extremely easy to vote in the state of Florida and we’re just making sure that nobody is gaming the system,” said State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, the bill’s sponsor.
“This bill, this amendment, is a slap in the Supervisors of Elections’ faces – after an election that you said, we say, was once of best we’ve had,” Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, argued.
The proposed legislation, which is already approved by the Florida Senate would make the following changes to the existing law:
- New voter ID and signature requirements
- Limit persons who can return completed ballots
- Tighten rules on ballot drop boxes
- Limit food, water and item distribution by election workers to 150 feet of polls or drop boxes
Only immediate family members, including grandchildren, would be allowed to return a voter’s ballot.
If approved, drop boxes would only be accessible during early voting hours and must be monitored by Supervisor of Elections staff at all times.
“Were there any examples of ballot harvesting in the last election? the 2020 election cycle?” Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa asked at Tuesday’s debate.
“I don’t know, but I’m sure it was going on. Just the fact that they weren’t caught doesn’t necessarily mean its not happening,” Rep. Ingoglia said.
Florida’s 67 Supervisors of Elections do not support the changes and said they have continued to share information with lawmakers, according to a statement on their behalf.
Members of the House are expected to vote on Wednesday. If the bill is passed, it will return to the Senate for approval, before heading to Gov. Ron DeSantis for a signature.