A bill that gives expanded voting access to military personnel serving overseas appears to be blocked in the Florida House of Representatives.
As home to Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections, Paul Lux, is advocating for the bill that expands voting access for the men and women in uniform and serving overseas.
“As we know, some deployed troops have trouble getting access to ballots,” Lux said.
He added an option that more and more deployed military personnel are using is the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB).
But Florida law doesn’t allow the FWAB to be used for state and local issues which is what Lux is trying to change.
“Unless they’re using the ballot we send them, the military are currently unable to vote on ballot initiatives, constitutional amendments,” Lux said. “I mean if they’re property owners, even local tax initiatives, they’re not going to be able to use a FWAB to vote on.”
The bill he advocated for, HB215, would allow Florida voters to use the federal write-in absentee ballot to vote on those local ballot initiatives and state constitutional amendments.
Lux acknowledged that there were concerns about any controversial election bill that. So, he said HB215 was very narrowly drafted to address only this one issue. And he said nothing was added to the bill as it moved through three house committees without objection.
An identical version passed the senate.
But on the house side, HB 215 has been sitting since March 4 waiting to be put on the house calendar for a second reading and vote.
Lux said he’s heard no objections from his fellow elections supervisors or from lawmakers. So, he wants to know why the bill has been left to languish.
The office of the Florida Speaker of the House said that HB 215 was available for the “special order” calendar which means it could be brought up for a vote at any time without being scheduled. And there is no way to find out if the legislation will be considered for a vote because the Florida House special order calendar is not available.