Republicans who support a massive and controversial elections bill have yet to present evidence of fraud to justify changes that advocacy groups have said would make it more difficult for people — especially young people — to vote.

Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, took a different tack on Thursday as lawmakers debates Senate Bill 2086.

“We all want everybody to vote,” he said. “But we want an informed voter.”

Many people don’t even know where and when they’re supposed to go vote, he added. Voting is a privilege. How easy should it be?

“Do you read the stories about the peoiple in Africa? The people in the desert, who literally walk two and three hundred miles so they can have the oppotunity to do what we do, and we want to make it more convenient? How much more convenient do you want to make it?” he said. “Do we want to go to their house? Take the polling booth with us?”

“This is a hard-fought privilege,” he added. “This is something people die for. You want to make it convenient? The guy who died to give you that right, it was not convenient. Why would we make it any easier? I want ‘em to fight for it. I want ‘em to know what it’s like. I want them to go down there, and have to walk across town to go over and vote,” he said.

The Senate approved the measure 25-13, in a nearly party-line vote, with Republicans Mike Fasano of New Port Richey and Paula Dockery of Lakeland breaking ranks in opposition. The House needs to give the measure final approval before it lands on Gov. Rick Scott’s desk.

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