What Florida’s new voting law means for you

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a controversial voting bill into law just days ago. What does it mean for you?

For starters, if you submitted a vote-by-mail application before the bill was signed, you’re good until 2022. Those who didn’t will have to fill one out every cycle.

The pandemic meant voting by mail was the way to go for many in the 2020 elections. This kept lines shorter at the polls and helped keep the vulnerable from having to go out in public if they didn’t feel safe.

Brad Ashwell, the state director for All Voting is Local, said changes due to the law could keep a lot of voters away.

“Any time there is an obstacle to voting, it’s going to disproportionately impact more vulnerable communities and those communities that are already challenged by the existing system. That’s typically Black voters, Hispanic voters,” he said.

Spurred by concerns that the pandemic would keep voters from voting on Election Day last year, the Democratic Party urged people to vote early and through the mail.

The result: Florida Democrats outvoted Republicans by mail for the first time in years as a record 4.9 million Floridians voted by mail. Democrats cast 680,000 more mail ballots than Republicans did.

DeSantis said he wants protection against ballot harvesting. He said other than direct family members, no one else should be handling ballots for voters.

By signing the bill, he said it could protect the state from experiencing voting fraud.

“Terrible for our country. So Florida, we just said no, we’re not going to do it. So I think it was a really positive day, we got a lot of great feedback on it,” the governor said.

The newly signed law restricts when ballot drop boxes can be used and who can collect ballots – and how many. To protect against so-called “ballot harvesting,” an electoral Good Samaritan can only collect and return the ballots of immediate family and no more than two from unrelated people. Under the new rules, drop boxes must be supervised and would only be available when elections offices and early voting sites are open.

Although we may see fewer drop boxes, it doesn’t mean completely banning them as some Republicans were initially requesting.

Several voting groups have filed lawsuits, saying the law does nothing but suppress voters and violate the First and 14th amendments.

Reporter:Andrea Guerrero
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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