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Election leaders: Voting bill could put your personal info at risk

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Posted at 5:09 PM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 17:40:57-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla.  — A bill making its way through the statehouse is intended at making sweeping changes to Florida’s election process.

House Bill 7041, sponsored by Blaise Ingoglia of District 35 in Spring Hill, aims to change how voters register for mail ballots and drop them off among other issues.

Yet, the bill isn’t sitting well with the 67 Supervisor of Elections leaders across Florida, including those in Tampa Bay. One major issue: They fear it could put your personal information at risk of getting into the wrong hands.

Florida’s 2020 presidential election went off without a hitch with a record number of voters casting a ballot. Representative Ingoglia tells ABC Action News he wants to make sure the integrity of our voting process is top of mind for years to come.

“We are putting the guardrails around voting so we can keep our elections safe and secure and yet still ensure voters have access to the ballot box,” he explained.

The bill is raising alarm amongst election leaders like Julie Marcus, the republican Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections. Marcus says the bill would require her to post your signature online, alongside other information that’s already in the public record including your name, address, email, phone number and date of birth.

“That provides for a serious issue,” Marcus said, “The reason you don’t want signatures out there is that it’s a major component of us being able to identify a voter so they can participate in an election and on a personal level, voters clearly wouldn’t want their information out there so that their identity isn’t stolen.”

Ingoglia says the information would be restricted to particular groups.

“It all boils down to that campaigns, parties need to have meaningful access and that’s key meaningful access, to make sure ballots are duplicated correctly and we get to challenge any signatures that we don’t think match,” he elaborated.

Yet, Marcus and other election leaders worry it could fall into the wrong hands and potentially put the entire election at risk.

“This could put voters in a position where they may be scared to continue to vote by mail and that’s of course concerning because voting by mail increases voter turnout,” she explained.

Ingoglia says he plans to work with election leaders to strike a balance, adding that voters are demanding accountability and it’s his job to ensure they get it.

“Voters all want to know that their ballot is safe and secure. We are listening in the legislature and we will deliver,” he added.

Here are a few other changes the bill would make:

  • Requiring a driver’s license or Social Security number to change voter registrations
  • Limit who can pick up or drop off a ballot to immediate family or those who share a home with another voter.
  • Mail ballot requests would only cover one, not two, election cycles.

The bill seeks to stop something Ingoglia calls “ballot harvesting” by prohibiting mail ballot collection efforts by political parties, community groups and neighbors.

Florida’s 67 Supervisor of Elections leaders have banned together to send a letter to state leaders explaining how the changes would negatively impact voter experience, decrease voter confidence and lead to ballots unnecessarily rejected.