A Senate committee moved forward with a bill that would allow online voter registration in Florida and put new restrictions on drop-off locations for absentee ballots. The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee unanimously approved introducing the measure (SPB 7068), which will still have to return to the panel for another vote. Because of that, Democrats backed away from offering amendments that could still become flashpoints in the debate over the measure. Much of the controversy over the provisions in the bill focused on language that would allow elections supervisors to provide secure boxes to receive absentee ballots, but only at early-voting locations and supervisor of elections’ offices.
The language is a response to a Nov. 25 directive by Secretary of State Ken Detzner essentially ordering supervisors to stop providing locations other than the supervisors’ offices where voters could drop off completed absentee ballots.
But Pinellas County Supervisor Deborah Clark threatened to defy that order in a set of elections to choose a successor for the late Congressman C.W. Bill Young. Eventually, Detzner agreed not to go to court in an effort to force Clark to follow the directive.
Ethics and Elections Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said the incident is part of a long-running quest by Clark to move toward voting by mail. He claimed Clark opens just three early-voting locations in an effort to push voters toward casting absentee ballots.