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Lawmakers Propose Changes To Florida's Election System

Orlando area lawmakers are proposing a bill that would help ensure every qualified citizen in Florida is able to vote. The legislators say changes are needed sooner rather than later.

Credit Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

“A year from now we will have a very consequential presidential election and this is the time to get it right," said Thompson.

That’s Windermere Democratic Representative Geraldine Thompson, she calls certain rules surrounding elections in Florida unfair, so she’s proposing changes.

One would remove what Thompson says is an unnecessary voter registration deadline.

“In today’s age of technology, we’re able to have people come and show their identification, register and vote on the same day. We’re a very mobile society but we are wedded to an archaic system that was developed years ago," said Thompson.

Thompson thinks advances in technology could make it easier for people who aren’t sure how to find their polling place.

“Because of a database we are able to find those voters, to determine that they live in the county where they say they live. So they should be able to provide a provisional ballot on election day," Thompson suggested.

That change would allow a person who lives in the county to vote at any precinct on election day, instead of only being allowed to vote at their assigned location.

Another change would eliminate a problem that arose during the 2018 election.

“We saw thousands of signatures in 2018 that were deemed not to match and therefore those ballots were discarded," said Thompson.

To solve that problem Thompson wants to give voters the option of putting the last four of their Social Security Number on mail in ballots.

“Let's get the subjectivity out of it and use what Florida uses with its prescription drug monitoring system. And that’s the last four digits of the social security number," explained Thompson. Which has been shown to be secure and is something that we use for something as important as prescription drug monitoring."

Thompson says the changes would help elderly Floridians the most.

"If you register ten years ago today you have arthritis and your hand is not as steady as it used to be, your signature’s not going to match," explained Thompson.

Thompson also wants to reverse a 1998 constitutional amendment.

“So I’m proposing that Florida go back to an elected Secretary of State and that would be a positon that would report to the people and be accountable to the people. Rather than a politician who has appointed a person in that position," said Thompson.

In 98 voters approved an amendment allowing the Governor to choose a Secretary of State. Thompson says recently those appointed Secretaries of State have been used to perform political favors for their boss.

Orlando Democratic Senator Linda Stewart is filing the companion bill.

Copyright 2020 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

Blaise Gainey is a Multimedia Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.