Just weeks after trying to overturn Amendment Four, Florida Republicans are backing another voter suppression bill, HB 7101, that so far has flown under the radar. The bill, which is sponsored by the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and passed the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee yesterday, is another attempt to suppress votes in Florida. If the bill becomes law, it could block tens of thousands of Floridians from voting by mail in the critical days before Election Day.
According to a House of Representatives staff analysis memo, HB 7101 and amendments added by Representative Ingoglia to HB 7101, would:
- Prohibit supervisors of elections from mailing out vote by mail ballots less than eight days before an election.
- Limit the number of days that voters could request a VBM ballot to ten days before election day.
Crunching the Data: If HB 7101 Were Law in 2018, It Could Have Invalidated Over 53,000 Votes
The Florida Democratic Party analyzed the numbers and found that if HB 7101 was law in 2018, 53,929 votes cast in the 2018 general election could have been invalidated.
Throwing out more than 53,000 votes would have had a tremendous impact on races up and down the ballot in a 2018 election year in which three statewide races, and multiple legislative elections, were decided by a recount. Had HB 7101 been law in 2018, the outcomes of those races could have been dramatically different — but more importantly, the voices of as many as 53,929 voters would have been silenced.
This bill represents a significant disruption in how Floridians vote by mail in the critical days before an election — and would cause confusion for Floridians trying to mail in their ballots. Tens of thousands of voters who are used to requesting, receiving, and returning a vote by mail ballot in the final week of an election would now be effectively blocked from voting and their votes would not count.
House Republicans efforts to reverse Amendment Four has generated national outrage — and been fiercely opposed by Democrats and voting rights advocacy groups. But the Republican agenda to repress the vote goes far beyond overturning Amendment Four. Outside the national headlines, Florida Republicans are pushing legislation like HB 7101 that would upend our election system, cause confusion for voters — and likely silence the voices of thousands of Floridians.
HB 7101’s Impact by the Numbers
Ballot Requests October 28, 2018 though November 6, 2018:
71,485 ballots that were legally requested and provided by Supervisors of Elections in 2018 would not have been honored under HB 7101.
VBM Mailed October 30, 2018 through November 6, 2018:
99,343 ballots that were mailed by Supervisors of Elections in 2018 would not have been mailed in 2018 were HB 7101 law.
What votes may not have been cast and counted if HB 7101 was law in 2018?
53,929 ballots that were cast in 2018 were either requested or mailed — and then cast and counted — in the new vote by mail restriction window laid out in HB 7101, according to an analysis summary of the 2018 voter file.