Absentee ballots would be accepted at early voting sites under a proposal that has received unanimous support in two House committees and is scheduled for a floor vote in that chamber Wednesday. But the measure was watered down in the Senate Tuesday after a last-minute maneuver linked to Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan, who won election by defeating the legislator sponsoring the House bill. Sen. Aaron Bean said that at Hogan’s request he filed an amendment to Senate Bill 726 that allows supervisors of elections to opt out of the practice of accepting vote-by-mail ballots at early voting sites. “They’ve asked that they have the flexibility to choose not to participate,” Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, told the Ethics and Elections Committee.
No one from Hogan’s office was there to explain the request, and Democrats blasted the amendment as harmful to voters. Sen. Oscar Braynon said Duval County has opposed other voter access proposals over the years, including extended voting hours and early voting on Sundays.
“I’ve asked the same question over and over again: Why would you not want this to happen?” said Braynon, a Miami Democrat. “And I have really never got a good answer from them.”
Hogan was out of the office Tuesday and could not be reached.