Florida Republicans rushed to pass a sweeping voting bill in response to false election claims pushed by Donald Trump and his allies but some are now worried that they could backfire on their own voters, The Washington Post reports.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign a bill passed by the legislature that will limit the use of drop boxes, impose new ID requirements, and end the state’s practice of putting voters on an absentee ballot list for multiple election cycles if they request a single ballot, among other measures that Democrats decried as restrictive and disproportionately aimed at Black voters.
But Florida Republicans have especially relied on mail voting for decades.
“Virtually every narrow Republican victor of the past generation — and there have been many, including two of the state’s current top officeholders, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott — owes their victory, at least in part, to mail voting,” The Post reported.
Now, some Republican operatives worry the bill will backfire.
GOP pushed mail voting for over 20 years:
Republican lawmakers have pushed to make it easier to vote by mail since 1988.
The party encouraged elderly voters to cast absentee ballots and in 2002 created a no-excuse vote-by-mail system that allowed anyone to cast ballots by mail for any reason.
Republicans later required every early voting location to have a ballot drop box and created the absentee voter list where voters automatically receive mail ballots for multiple election cycles if they requested one in any election.
By 2020, nearly 35% of Republicans in the state voted by mail.
“That was before their leader’s attack on mail balloting,” Ion Sancho, a former county election supervisor, told the Post.
“Donald Trump attempted to ruin a perfectly safe and trusted method of voting,” a longtime Republican consultant told the outlet. “The main law that we pass when we pass election bills in Florida is the law of unintended consequences.”
Supporters push back:
“It’s not going to hurt anybody, Republicans or Democrats,” Florida GOP Chairman state Sen. Joe Gruters told the Post. “People are going to understand the changes that were made long before another election comes around. People will have a full grasp of what we’re dealing with.”
“My goal is to make it as easy as possible to vote and as hard as possible to cheat, period,” he added, noting that he wants to expand early in-person voting in the future.
The Post reported that some Republicans “privately” raised concerns that the law could adversely affect elderly and military voters.
Some Republicans even raised the possibility of exempting those voters from the law but the idea was shot down.
“Now, you’ll have military personnel who might not think they have to request a ballot who won’t get it,” a former state official told the Post. “And we’ve got senior voters who have health concerns or just don’t want to go out. They might not know the law has changed, and they might not get a ballot, because they’re not engaged.”