Today’s entry: @brianmuddradio can you parse this? "...eliminating drop boxes... Per statute it seems like Florida CAN still have limited, monitored drop boxes at an official polling site during early voting. If that's "eliminating" then I'd have a bone to pick with the governor...And verification to be done during early voting.
Bottom Line: A lot has happened with Florida election laws over the past couple of years. That’s in part due to Florida having passed election integrity related laws in each of the past two years. And while I’ve covered these stories right along, it’s a good time to push the reset button on what’s changed, as we’re now inside of the primary election cycle and the related changes are in place – starting with the vote-by-mail ballots and potential use of drop boxes you’re specifically asking about. The drop box reforms were part of last year’s election law and have actually been in force for over a year. Meaning all elections across the state since then, have been under the new policy. Specific to drop boxes – the policy was in place for the special congressional election to replace the late Alcee Hastings in January... Which btw, notice how the first election to take place with the election integrity law Democrats decried as Jim Crow 2.0 just happened to take place in the district with the highest concentration of Black voters in Florida and yet there wasn’t a single issue with someone being disenfranchised and unable to vote? Anyway, let’s get to it.
Signed into law by Governor DeSantis on May 6th, 2021, which also was its effective date, was Florida’s “Elections” law. What I’ve frequently referred to as last year’s election integrity law – which is not to be confused with this year’s subsequent election integrity law. These laws are aimed at preventing issues monitored in other states during the 2020 elections in addition to prosecuted voter fraud in Florida stemming from that cycle. For those who may be unaware, despite the relative smoothness of 2020’s elections in Florida, there have been four criminal convictions for voter fraud stemming from that cycle – one of which led to an election result in central Florida being overturned. Additionally, there remains 156 officially referred cases of voter fraud, most of which are in South Florida, which have gone unprosecuted by state attorneys. Here’s a refresh on what last year’s law changed:
- Private money is banned from use in conducting elections
- Requests for vote by mail ballots would have to occur each election cycle with ID required for each request
- Increases the window of time for Supervisors of Elections to begin processing vote-by-mail ballots by up to 40 days before Election Day
- Disallows the printing of a political party on the outside of a vote by mail ballot
- 3rd parties outside of immediate family or caregivers aren’t allowed to collect voter ballots
- Prohibits the use of drop boxes for vote by mail ballots which aren’t supervised by a person
- Drop boxes must be located in locations that are centrally located within a jurisdiction
- Each political party will have the ability to observe signature matches certified by canvassing boards
- The no influence zones outside of polling places extend to 150 feet
Specific to your question regarding drop boxes, there’s your answer. The specific Florida Statue you noted states: The supervisor shall allow an elector who has received a vote-by-mail ballot to physically return a voted vote-by-mail ballot to the supervisor by placing the return mail envelope containing his or her marked ballot in a secure drop box. Secure drop boxes shall be placed at the main office of the supervisor, at each permanent branch office of the supervisor, and at each early voting site. Secure drop boxes may also be placed at any other site that would otherwise qualify as an early voting site under s. 101.657(1). Drop boxes must be geographically located so as to provide all voters in the county with an equal opportunity to cast a ballot, insofar as is practicable. Except for secure drop boxes at an office of the supervisor, a secure drop box may only be used during the county’s early voting hours of operation and must be monitored in person by an employee of the supervisor’s office. A secure drop box at an office of the supervisor must be continuously monitored in person by an employee of the supervisor’s office when the drop box is accessible for deposit of ballots.
So yes, drop boxes still exist, but no supervisors can’t cherry-pick where they go, nor can they leave them unmonitored by a human. Specific to Broward’s drop boxes – Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott, when I spoke with him about this last year, was opposed to these reforms. In other words, you might not have thought the reforms went far enough – however Democrats running elections in Florida thought these restrictions went too far. Which, for what it may be worth, could be an indicator of effective policy. Scott, for example, told me drop boxes should be able to be placed essentially wherever they wanted and shouldn’t have to be monitored by a human.
I’ll watch this election cycle like a hawk as always and report back. For now, to me, the reforms seem to have struck a reasonable balance.
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