TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The state Legislature sounds likely to consider more election reforms for Florida in 2023. Members of the GOP majority said they are open to the idea, despite worries from Democrats that more changes might mean less voter access.
Many states are considering changes to their election law this year.
To date, the Voting Rights Lab has noted more than 300 bills filed in 19 Legislatures. The bulk is in Texas (75) and New Jersey (131). As of Wednesday, Florida still lacked any of its own legislation, though it's not likely to stay that way.
"I would fully expect that we will continue to build upon what we've done over the last couple of years," Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, said. "See where there is more room to work and to continue to improve on election integrity."
Burgess now chairs the upper chamber's election committee. He told us recently lawmakers have not hammered out any specific changes but said there is no shortage of ideas.
"If there's more to be done, and there may be, then that's what we're going to do," Burgess said. "So, I would say more to follow on that, but it's early at this point— certainly stay tuned."
While we wait, the National Conference of State Legislatures has predicted several hot topics for state lawmakers across the U.S. this year. Among them:
- Regulation of what poll watchers can see and do
- Tightening voter identification requirements
- Or adding safeguards against election equipment tampering
Florida's Democrats, meanwhile, vow to push back against policies they think could hinder voter access.
"The right to vote is so fundamental to us being Americans," House Minority Leader Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, said.
Specifically, Driskell hoped lawmakers would work on clarity of felon voting rights, as some call for a state database that could clearly show voter eligibility of those formally incarcerated.
It comes after confusion may have led to the arrests of a handful over the summer. Some have said they thought they were permitted to cast ballots despite state law.
"If someone has served their time and paid their debt to society, they should be eligible to vote, period," Driskell said. "It's the Legislature that has made a mess of this issue. So, it's the Legislature that needs to fix it."
The Republican majority will ultimately have the final say on that and any other election reform. They return to Tallahassee in March with even stronger numbers than last year.