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Here's what changes to Florida's election laws mean for voters

Carl Lisciandrello
WUSF Public Media

One year from now, you may be casting your vote in the 2024 elections.

Florida has made changes to voting since the last presidential election, such as placing restrictions on ballot drop boxes and third-party voter registration efforts, and creating a special law enforcement agency to investigate elections.

Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley and USA Today Network-Florida reporter John Kennedy spoke about voting Friday with Tom Hudson on The Florida Roundup.

Kennedy touched on one new law, SB 90, which requires voters to request a vote-by-mail ballot after each election cycle.

“Some people may still be under the impression that, you know, oh, I asked for it, you know, two years ago or four years ago and I should be getting it again this year. Well, they may find out that they’re not,” Kennedy said.

Another law, SB 7050, places further restrictions and penalties on third parties who register voters. Corley discussed his experience with voter registration groups on a local level.

“We had cases where we, in Pasco County, we had situations where voters were not eligible to vote because they were turned in after the book closing statutory deadline," Corley said. "We were getting pre-filled applications out, from groups out of Washington, D.C. that were horrible, erroneously inaccurate. Existing voters, voters who had not lived at that address for 10 years, people had been deceased, children and even pets, I can’t make that up.”

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Kennedy said these changes will affect how people register to vote a year from now, especially for those with felony convictions. Florida requires felons to complete their prison time, probation, and finish paying fees, fines, and restitution before being able to legally vote again.

“And that’s a very challenging situation because there is no court data readily available that can track someone’s fees, fines and court costs that are out there,” Kennedy said. “If you are maybe living in one county and maybe you committed your felony in another county, it’s just very difficult to do.”

Corley said having that data would be the one thing he’d like to see come 2024, even though he doesn't want Florida’s election code to change.

“One of our requests, if you’re going to do something in the legislature, maybe consider establishing a statewide database of felony offenders, completing with all terms of sentence, et cetera,” Corley said.

Corley also said politics have influenced the electoral process, such as voting by mail.

“There’s one function, one office that should be completely nonpartisan and politically agnostic. That’s the SOE office," Corley said. "So when you have what appears to be sometimes politics hijacking elections, I just like to make sure that we have, again, trying to find that balance of access versus integrity.”

This conversation was part of the Oct. 13 episode of the Florida Roundup. You can listen to the full episode here. Listen to the Florida Roundup every Friday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at noon, rebroadcast at 6 a.m. on Saturday. Missed a show? Find every episode of the Florida Roundup on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.

Copyright 2023 WUSF 89.7.

Gabriella Pinos
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