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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The case to erase 'absentee ballot' from Florida voting jargon



A renewed effort has begun in the Legislature to eliminate the term "absentee ballot" from Florida laws and replace it with "vote by mail" after a similar proposal died in the 2015 regular session. The bill (SB 112) cleared a Senate budget panel Tuesday.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, said the term "absentee" has been outdated since 1997 when the Legislature dropped a requirement that voters show written justification for requesting an absentee ballot. Like most states, Florida allows what's known as "no excuse" voting by mail, and it's growing in popularity, most dramatically in Pinellas County, where it is the most popular way to vote. Thompson's bill is supported by the statewide association of county election supervisors.

The Senate panel passed a second bill by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, to allow people with lifetime hunting and fishing licenses to get state-issued driver's licenses with a special symbol. About 23,000 people in Florida hold one of the three affected licenses, and another 32,000 people hold a sportsman's license that includes all three. They would have to pay an additional $1 when they renew their licenses. Florida already allows military veterans to get a green "V" symbol on their licenses.

"Sounds like a fee increase," said the panel's chairman, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, lightly needling the freshman Hutson, testifying for the first time in front of the appropriations subcommittee.

"It would be a fee to the consumer," Hutson replied.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 2:56pm]


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