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Bill making vote by mail more difficult passes Florida House

State Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando. Image: Florida Channel
State Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando. Image: Florida Channel

The Florida House has approved a bill making it more difficult to vote by mail and limiting drop boxes despite passionate objections from black members citing Florida's violent history of voter suppression.

Senate Bill 90 goes back to the Senate for a final vote.

Among its many provisions, the bill limits mail-in ballot requests to one election cycle. It restricts drop box locations and times, limits who can deliver a mail-in ballot and requires an ID to use the drop box.

It establishes a no-solicitation zone at 150 feet from the front door and the drop box, and its language is being understood as outlawing gifts of water or food there by anyone not working with the supervisor of elections.

Republican lawmakers, like Tommy Gregory of Sarasota, say SB 90 will make Florida voting more secure.

"This bill is not about making it harder to vote," he said. "This bill is about making it harder to vote illegally."

Opponents say it does not address actual fraud but is meant to suppress Democratic votes.

Rep. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando looked back on "the blood of the slaughtered," of blacks in Central Florida who died over voting rights.

She said: "I have to ask you, on behalf of July Perry, who wanted to vote in 1920, on behalf of Harry T. Moore, who was killed on Christmas night in 1951, on behalf of his wife, Harriet, who died nine days later, vote this voter suppression bill down!"

West Palm Beach Representative Omari Hardy tied it to former President Trump.

"We're not here because we have a problem with our elections," he said. "We are here because the Republican former president lost his re-election in November and rather than admitting his defeat he spun a web of lies. "

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Spring Hill Republican Rep. Blaise Ingoglia says the bill is what voters want.

"The question is: Are we listening to them? And we are. That's why we have this bill," he said.

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He says Florida has more voter access than Democratic states like New York and New Jersey.

Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.