TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — An election integrity proposal (SB 7050) that would significantly change Florida’s election laws, including placing tighter restrictions on voter registration groups, sailed through the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
This afternoon, the Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy also approved the bill despite protests from Democrats who argued that Republicans are trying to make it harder for certain groups to cast ballots.
“This is a fantastic piece of legislation that will keep Florida the gold standard in elections administration,” said Secretary of State Cord Byrd.
STRICTER REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS
Governor Ron DeSantis and other Republican leaders have repeatedly pushed for changes to election laws to prevent potential fraud and other irregularities. Supporters of the bill said it would require voter registration groups to follow strict guidelines when turning in registration forms and take extra steps to protect the personal information of people signing up to vote.
But opponents said more restrictions would burden third-party voter registration groups who Democrats say are essential in registering minorities, such as black voters – a key part of the Democratic base. They also said the bill would make it harder for immigrants and felons who have completed their sentences to register to vote.
“These are the very groups that register our most marginalized groups of people,” Rep. Robin Bartleman (D-Weston) said.
Some of the most significant changes included in the legislation include:
- Preventing non-U.S. citizens from collecting or handling voter registration applications for third-party registration groups.
- Barring those convicted of specific felonies, such as violations of the state elections code.
- Decreasing the time frame for voter-registration groups to deliver registration applications to supervisors of elections from 14 days to 10 days.
- Increasing fines for missing critical deadlines or failing to turn in applications.
- Requiring voter registration groups to provide receipts when they assist with voter applications.
- Requiring voter registration groups to re-register again with the state after every general election.
- Adjustments to campaign finance reporting requirements. Currently, candidates and committees must file monthly reports during off-election years. Under the new law, they would file reports quarterly until qualifying time. Once qualified, they would resume monthly reporting.
Bill sponsor and State Affairs Chairman Lawrence McClure (R-Dover) said the changes would increase transparency. For example, requiring groups to provide receipts would give people a record of their submitted information when applying to vote, McClure said. It would also provide evidence if voter registration groups don’t properly submit applications to elections supervisors.
McClure said people would have “a record of that moment when they provided their personal information” as a way to prevent fraud.