Conservative Think Tank Enters Vote-by-Mail Debate in Florida As Governor DeSantis Mulls Options
In the article, Marc Hyden of R Street, a group that is as reliably conservative as they come, argues that like it or not, the pandemic requires relying on voting procedures that he believes will protect polling workers and Floridians seeking to cast their ballots.
And that, he says, includes absentee voting, something that Floridians have long done but that is surely going to set off an additional discussion within GOP circles given the president’s position. “Absentee voting is a time-tested and convenient manner of performing your civic duty,” Hyden writes. “In fact, Florida’s most powerful resident – President Trump – votes absentee, and Florida deserves plaudits for many of its commonsense absentee voting rules, which mostly makes casting a ballot a cinch for registered voters. What’s more, absentee voting has the added benefit of helping more people keep away from throngs of other voters, which can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.”
Strikingly, Hyden also wades into deliberations into a major question that Governor Ron DeSantis is mulling over and is said to be nearing a decision on. The governor is considering a list of voting-rule recommendations that Florida Supervisors of Elections President Tammy Jones has made to him in light of the pandemic.
All in all, the recommendations, he says, are good. But one recommendation, in particular, appears to trouble Hyden. That recommendation calls for voting locations to be consolidated and is prompted by concerns that there could be a shortage of poll workers in the future due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hyden dismisses this as a valid but hypothetical concern. More than that, though, he says the proposal has the potential to limit access to voting in some areas and potentially overcrowd the remaining voting locations.
“Reducing access to voting feels antithetical to American ideals, and Jones’ proposal could come with its own health risks,” he writes. Hyden noted in his opposition to consolidating polling places that “the more polling locations there are, the fewer number of voters will visit each one – thereby reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19.” Hyden’s comments come as Governor DeSantis considers another noteworthy recommendation: widening the window to distribute absentee ballots.