Florida is a magnet for Americans seeking the American dream… with a generous helping of beautiful weather. In particular, older Americans and active duty military and veterans make up a large portion of Florida’s residents. Our retired neighbors and our military members also are more likely to prefer the convenience and ease of voting by mail (VBM). So why do some Florida politicians want to complicate this secure and convenient method to exercise our voting rights?
In recent years, politicians in Tallahassee have sought to add additional steps to the vote by mail option used by millions of Florida voters. Last year, HB 7061, sponsored by Daniel Perez, (R-Miami-Dade), would have required voters to place their ballot inside a total of three envelopes. According to Perez, “The way it would work is the secrecy envelope would go inside the certificate and then the certificate envelope would go inside of the mailing envelope as it would go out.” Voters would also be required to provide one of several personal identification numbers, depending on what jurisdiction they live in. Failure to follow all these steps, or providing the wrong personal ID number, would result in votes not being counted. Currently, correctly completed ballots returned without the “secrecy sleeve” are counted, ensuring voters’ will is respected.
Voting experts and Supervisors of Elections say that there would be little benefit to adding more steps to the voting by mail process that has worked securely for decades. Many voters, especially the elderly, people with disabilities, or Floridians who have moved within the state may not follow the additional steps correctly, jeopardizing their votes. At a time when many are losing trust in the integrity of our elections, adding unnecessary steps will create more uncertainty and confusion while doing nothing to improve security.
These measures would particularly impact two groups who are inclined to vote by mail: our seniors and active duty military and veterans. Older Floridians often prefer the convenience of VBM, especially those who may have mobility issues or other ailments as a result of age. Making seniors follow a complicated process is an invitation to simple mistakes resulting in disqualified votes. Our military members are also accustomed to voting by mail while deployed or stationed away from home. Service members have enough to worry about without having to jump through hoops to exercise the rights they are defending.
Florida is at risk of losing its hard-earned reputation as a state where voting is convenient, vote totals are secure, and results are reported promptly. Our state and country also has a dark history of using unproven or invented fears of voter fraud to prevent eligible voters for having their voice heard. With a big report on election security in Florida due in February 2023, we should be watching the results closely to determine the right balance between access and security. Adding additional steps to our voting process is a solution looking for a problem, let’s keep Florida’s voting simple, safe, and secure.