Florida’s GOP-backed legislature has passed a new bill that includes restrictions on voting by mail and ballot drop boxes, making it the latest swing state where Republican lawmakers have passed more restrictive voting laws.
According to NBC News, the bill was passed by the state House and Senate on Thursday after several weeks of negotiations by Republican state lawmakers. No Democrats supported the bill.
The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has already signaled support for more restrictive voting laws.
Among the changes presented in the bill is a provision that requires voters to request to vote by mail more often, a change that could have significant impact in a state where a large portion of both Republicans and Democrats prefer to vote by mail.
The New York Times notes that in 2016 and 2018, about one-third of voters in the state voted by mail, and that more Republicans than Democrats voted by mail in those elections.
That number exploded for Democrats 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Liberals made a nationwide push to vote by mail, and former President Donald Trump rallied against the practice. The Times notes that Trump himself voted by mail in the 2020 primary.
The new bill also puts more limits on ballot drop boxes. According to NBC News, the new law would limit who could drop off a voters’ ballot, restrict where the drop boxes can be placed and require that they be monitored by elections officials whenever they’re open.
The New York Times reports that most Florida drop boxes were already being monitored by elections officials or through video surveillance.
According to ABC News, Republican lawmakers removed a provision from the law Thursday that would have banned the use of drop boxes altogether. They also softened language that would have prohibited handing out food and water within 150 feet of polling places.
In recent months, dozens of states with Republican-backed legislatures have introduced hundreds of bills that would make voting more restrictive. Among those states is Georgia, whose decision to pass such a bill was met with by heavy criticism by liberal politicians, activists and even corporate America.
Many of the bills have been introduced under the lie that Trump was defeated in the 2020 election due to widespread voter fraud — a lie that culminated in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Trump’s own attorney general said in late 2020 that he had not seen any evidence of widespread voter fraud, and the government’s top cybersecurity official — a Republican — called the 2020 election the “most secure election in American history."