WASHINGTON, D.C.—Republicans in Florida are pushing to completely ban ballot drop boxes in the state. The chair of the state Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala), proposed legislation on Tuesday to ban the use of drop boxes, a popular and secure way for voters to return their mail ballots. 44% of Floridians voted by mail last election, many relying on drop boxes to return their ballots easily and securely.
Sen. Baxley provided no evidence to justify his proposal, simply referring to concerns about securing the “chain of evidence” for ballots returned in drop boxes. There are no recorded cases in Florida of drop box ballots being tampered with or otherwise fraudulent, and Baxley did not provide any examples. The extreme move shocked even other Republicans in the state, especially election officials. The Pasco County Supervisor of Elections, a Republican, stated, “I’m at a loss for words. It’s a solution looking for a problem.”
The move is a clear partisan attempt to suppress Democratic votes. Republicans in Florida had spent decades making it easier to vote by mail—until last election, when Democratic voters cast more absentee votes than Republicans. Now, Republican legislators are relying on unproven and unfounded conspiracy theories of voter fraud to justify disenfranchising voters after a record-high election turnout. The proposal will be debated by the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Senate committee today.