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Floridians, including most Republicans, want more access to voting, poll finds

But lawmakers are poised to restrict it.
Voting signs are seen just outside the Belleair Beach City Hall Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Belleair Beach is one of 10 small Pinellas municipalities that held elections Tuesday.
Voting signs are seen just outside the Belleair Beach City Hall Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Belleair Beach is one of 10 small Pinellas municipalities that held elections Tuesday. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Mar. 11
Updated Mar. 11

As Florida Republicans move swiftly to put new restrictions on casting a ballot, a new poll shows most Floridians — including a majority of GOP voters — want them to make voting easier.

For example, after the record-breaking early voting turnout of 2020, two-thirds of registered voters surveyed said lawmakers should add more early voting days to the calendar.

The poll was commission by Secure Democracy, an organization focused on election integrity, and it was conducted by Ryan Tyson, one of the state’s best-known Republican pollsters. Tyson over-sampled GOP primary voters in his survey — a demonstration of how even a majority of President Donald Trump’s supporters also back more access to voting.

The survey found that voters overwhelmingly think voters should be allowed to receive assistance returning a ballot from a family member or caregiver.

Instead, lawmakers are fast-tracking a bill that would only allow immediate family members to hand in a ballot for someone else. Gov. Ron DeSantis has pushed for this. Without specifying instances where fraud took place, DeSantis is urging lawmakers to address “any type of loopholes” that could allow for abuse.

Most Floridians oppose this measure, though a majority of Republican voters are for it.

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The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dennis Baxley of Ocala, would also bar local election offices from setting up ballot drop off boxes throughout their counties. These boxes have become increasingly popular, including in counties run by Republican election supervisors. More than 1.8 million people turned in their ballot via a drop-off box.

While there is substantial support — 77 percent — for increased security at drop boxes, Tyson said his findings also show that most Floridians “are opposed to policies that would restrict voting access.”

“Our polling shows clear bipartisan support for various policies which bolster election integrity and expand voter access,” Tyson said.

There’s also widespread support, including from 60 percent of Republicans, for the state to inform prisoners of what fines and fees they need to pay in order to regain their right to vote. After voters approved Amendment 4, Republicans in Tallahassee limited its reach by requiring felons to make those payments before their rights could be restored; however, they failed to create a system for felons to check what they owe.

“The facts speak for themselves: our research clearly shows that Floridians of all political persuasions want policies that continue to improve voter access and bolster election integrity without being excessively restrictive,” said Sarah Walker, executive director of Secure Democracy. “After a very successful 2020 election in Florida, lawmakers have the opportunity to unite Republicans and Democratic voters behind common-sense election integrity measures.”

The poll of 600 registered voters was conducted between Feb. 26 and March 2.