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Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee.

Florida Democrats want to rollback recent state voting law changes

Early voting sign hangs between the columns at the Leon County Courthouse
Alejandro Santiago
WFSU Public Media
An early voting sign hangs between the columns at the Leon County Courthouse

Florida democrats and progressive groups are trying to reverse what they see as restrictions on voting that have hurt predominately minority and underserved voters. But any such changes to voting laws put forward by those groups is unlikely to sway the Republican-led legislature, which has backed greater restrictions during the past several years.

Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, says current Florida voting rules, particularly those restricting vote-by-mail ballots, are putting the civil rights of minorities at risk.

“There are forces that want to turn the clock back on our voting rights and your being here today is to send a message," she said.

Thompson is working with Rep. Levon Bracy Davis, D-Ocoee, to change that. They’re calling their proposal the Harry T. and Harriette v. Moore Florida Voting Rights Act, named after the civil rights pioneers who focused on black voter registration. Under the measure, Election Day would become a paid holiday and voters who opt in to a vote by mail ballot would continue to vote that way, as opposed to having to opt in every two years.

The proposal effectively reverses a state law approved in 2021 that was passed in the wake of the 2020 election, which former President Donald Trump has falsely claimed was stolen. That law effectively canceled all of the outstanding mail in ballot requests at the end of 2022 and cut down the number of years voters automatically receive mail in ballots if they opt in, from four to two.

After signing that change into law, Governor Ron DeSantis referred to its provisions as “the strongest election integrity measures in the country.” At the time of the law's passage, its supporters argued it was meant to add further safeguards to state elections.

Richard Brown is a senior journalism student at Florida A&M University. He specializes in politics and policy.

Richard has written extensively for his school paper, The Famuan, and represents FAMU as one of six students selected for Open Campus’ HBCU Student Journalism network. Richard has also contributed to Tallahassee magazine and Onyx magazine.