Here’s what you need to know about Senate Bill 90 ahead of Florida’s next election cycle

Senate Bill 90 passed the Florida Senate and was signed into law by Governor DeSantis last May. Its provisions amend state election laws to, according to the Florida Senate website, “enhance election security, transparency, and administration.” Here’s what you need to know about the bill ahead of the national elections this fall.

Senate Bill 90 requires voters who choose to vote by mail to provide a Florida driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Voters who choose to vote in person can be verified by providing their date of birth and current address.

Tommy Doyle, the election supervisor in Lee County, said some voters were initially concerned about the mail-in ballot requirements because some of the population may not have a driver’s license. Doyle said that wasn’t a problem because most people had a driver’s license, Florida ID or Social Security number.

“We haven’t seen an issue yet where a voter couldn’t request to vote by mail, or change their record, or have a problem doing so,” Doyle said.

Doyle said voters should be aware that when casting ballots in person, they cannot have more than two ballots in addition to those of immediate family members.

This can be a problem if someone is unable to bring their own ballot to the drop box. Cecile Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said it was unfair. “They made it a crime out of the blue,” she said. In the past, voters were allowed to drop multiple ballots into drop boxes, as long as they weren’t paid.

Scoon said the practice was common in various groups, such as churches. People would help older voters by dropping off their ballots.

Although Senate Bill 90 was created in part to improve election security, the measures it takes have been strongly pushed back, particularly by third-party registration organizations. Scoon believes that many provisions of the bill are unfair.

Blake Summerlin, statewide communications manager for the League of Women Voters in Florida, said the League believes Senate Bill 90 will affect all Florida voters, but it will have a disproportionate impact on older voters, voters with disabilities, students and communities of Color.

“[The] the legislation makes voter registration drives, mail-in voting and makes basic online voter assistance unnecessarily difficult, resulting in the suppression of voting,” Summerlin said.

For example, instead of monitoring drop boxes with security cameras, they now have to be monitored by election officials. Therefore, drop boxes are open during posted hours of operation.

Scoon said that could pose a problem for much of the working population as they might not be able to turn in their ballots on time due to conflicting work schedules.

“It’s completely illogical. On the face of it, it is destructive and harmful to citizens,” Scoon said. “When you remove drop boxes and their accessibility, you’re essentially saying that only white-collar workers will be preferred.”

The Senate proposed Senate Bill 524 to help clarify the legislation in Senate Bill 90. One clarification relates to fines for third-party voters.

Third-party voter registration organizations are registered with the state and send voter registration applications for processing. Senate Bill 524 increases the fines for these organizations if they fail to meet certain requirements. These organizations can be fined up to $50,000 per year. Previously, third-party voter registration organizations could be fined up to $1,000 per year. Although it has not yet been signed by the governor, the Florida Senate website indicates that Senate Bill 524 is on the verge of becoming law, unless the law specifically provides otherwise.

“They target groups like The League when they say, ‘We’ll fine you if you do something wrong, and we’re prepared to fine you,'” Scoon said.

While parts of the bill were created to hold third-party voter registration organizations accountable, Scoon said the legislation hurts third parties like the League of Women Voters. Scoon said the League trains its members carefully, particularly regarding the need to turn in voter registration applications on time.

Senate Bill 90 requires third-party voter registration organizations to notify people that the organization might not turn in their voter registration forms on time. Third-party voter registration organizations are required to deliver voter registration forms to the respective county within 14 days after the forms are completed by the voter. If third parties submit registration forms late, they are liable to a fine.

“We still have to say [we may not turn applications in on time], which would break the trust,” Scoon said. “You talk to someone, try to encourage them to register to vote and then, ‘oh, I can’t return this in time.’ He’s just a killer.

According to Senate Bill 90, third parties must also inform voters that they can register to vote at the Office of the Supervisor of Elections or online. Scoon is discouraged by this because third parties exist to help people vote.

“We have to say, ‘You can sign up on your own…’ It basically deters a person from acting on the spot, with a human being who can help them,” Scoon said. “It seemed to encourage people not to sign up.”

Scoon said the League of Women Voters is already rigorous in its voter registration process. The provisions of Senate Bill 90 require third-party voter registration organizations to be even more careful to avoid hefty fines.

“We’re trying to do this job, and all these voter registration bills are making our job harder,” Scoon said. “It makes the stakes for even an innocent mistake much higher. It’s frustrating, it’s annoying. »

Doris Cortese of the Lee Republican Women Federated was contacted by phone and email twice for an interview. Cortese did not answer.

Norman D. Briggs