Over the past two years, Florida has passed a number of anti-voter bills that have made the voting process less inclusive and less accessible for eligible voters in the state. The Legislature has fought to add voter ID requirements to absentee ballot applications, restrict drop boxes, limit private election funding, and impose harsher penalties for election-related crimes. While these changes are without a doubt harmful for eligible voters in the state, many of the changes that were passed were significantly improved from their original versions. Because the Legislature ultimately scaled back many of their initially incredibly harsh proposals and also enacted a measure to provide certain registered voters with free ID cards, Florida received a D- on this year’s progress report.
Where Florida Started in 2020
- Automatic Voter Registration: No
- Online Voter Registration: DMV ID
- Same-Day Registration: No
- Restoration of Rights: Some Permanent Disenfranchisement
- Vote by Mail: No-Excuse
- Electronic Registration Information Center Member: Yes
- Early Voting Opportunities: Regular Ballot Early Voting
- ID Requirements: ID Requested, but Not Required
Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for Florida as of 2020, we considered the state a bottom tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2021-22 activity against other bottom tier states.
How Our Tier Compares:
2021: Two Years Ago
During the 2021 session, the Legislature passed an omnibus anti-voter law, S 90, that made broad changes to Florida’s election laws, from voter ID to in-person and mail voting, to election administration. A Florida trial court struck down several provisions in the law earlier this year. However, that ruling is currently on appeal before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. At this time, all provisions of the law are currently in effect as the lawsuit proceeds.
- S 90 requires voters to include a Florida ID or Social Security number on their absentee ballot application.
- S 90 only allows voters to request mail ballots through a single general election, instead of two general elections, as previously allowed.
- S 90 imposes several restrictions on drop boxes: boxes must have an election supervisor staffing the boxes during all hours they are in use, boxes at early voting sites can only be used during early voting hours, and mobile/moveable box sites are not allowed as all locations must be set 30 days before an election and cannot be changed.
- S 90 prohibits the state, counties, and other election jurisdictions from accepting private funds for all aspects of elections, including voter education and voter registration programs.
- S 90 makes it a crime to provide food and water to voters waiting in line at the polls.
2022: This Past Year
After making substantial changes to election laws in 2021, the Legislature passed only two election-related laws during the 2022 session, a pro-voter bill, S 144, that allows registered voters experiencing financial hardship to receive a free state ID card, and an anti-voter bill, S 524, that established an “elections police force” in the state that creates a serious risk of voter intimidation and has already been used to conduct politically motivated investigations.
- S 144 allows registered voters that are experiencing financial hardship to receive a free driver’s license or ID card from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles by presenting their voter registration card. Voters may not be required to “prove” their hardship to receive the free ID.
- S 524 creates the “Office of Election Crime and Security”
- S 524 increases criminal penalties for existing election-related crimes.
- S 524 alters voter list maintenance procedures to increase the risk of erroneous removals.
- S 524 significantly increases penalties for errors in third-party registration drives.
- S 524 increases penalties for ballot collection by third-parties.
- S 524 outlaws ranked choice voting in Florida.
- The newly-created election police force issued its first criminal charges in 2022. Out of 11 million Florida voters who cast ballots in the 2020 election, the election police force identified 20 people with prior criminal convictions who registered to vote and voted without having their voting rights restored. Subsequent reporting indicated that many of these 20 people registered to vote with the assistance of government officials, and did not understand that they were ineligible to register or vote.