Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new voting bill Thursday, making his state the latest to enact election reforms following the 2020 presidential election.
“Floridians can rest assured that our state will remain a leader in ballot integrity,” the Republican said. “Elections should be free and fair, and these changes will ensure this continues to be the case in the Sunshine State.”
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 6, 2021
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) just signed the state’s new restrictive voting bill live on Fox News (after barring local press from the bill’s signing). pic.twitter.com/hR2ZXooABy
— The Recount (@therecount) May 6, 2021
DeSantis noted the team of leaders in the GOP-led state played a big role as well.
“I’d like to thank our legislative leaders on this issue — Senate President Wilton Simpson, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Senator Dennis Baxley, and Representative Blaise Ingoglia,” he said.
“Floridians have more options to cast their ballot than ever before. With that variety must come assurance of security, accountability, and transparency,” Sprowls said in a statement.
“The bill Governor DeSantis signed today will protect our election procedures and provide voters with confidence that our elections will remain accessible, efficient, and secure. The right to vote should never be taken for granted, and we must always strive to improve the processes that establish the foundation of our democracy.”
The new law strengthens voter integrity in Florida by “limiting the duration of requests for vote-by-mail ballots to all elections held within a calendar year of a request.”
The bill also includes “authorizing the canvassing of vote-by-mail ballots upon the completion of the public preelection testing of automatic tabulating equipment.”
One important feature of the new bill addresses the issue of ballot harvesting at elder care facilities. The governor’s statement said it “strikes a reasonable balance for families and those in elder care facilities while simultaneously banning ballot harvesting by political operatives.”
“Under this law, a person may not handle more than two ballots other than those of immediate family members. There is an exemption for ballots collected during supervised voting at assisted living facilities and nursing homes to make sure no undue burden is caused for Florida’s most vulnerable.”
Also among changes is a “prohibition on the use of private funds for election-related expenses,” which Fox News called “a response to the fact Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and others provided funding to some states and cities last year to help run the election.”
Many Democrats railed against the new law.
Joe Scott, the Broward County supervisor of elections, called the legislation “terrible” in an interview Wednesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“The new law has limitations that are unreasonable and extremely confusing,” Scott said. “That confusion in effect will lead to voter suppression. Many voters who don’t understand the rules will decide not to participate at all.”
Others on social media made similar claims.
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) May 6, 2021
Another voter suppression bill enacted as a direct response to increased participation by Black voters and other voters of color. https://t.co/K7YlMHvUib
— John Cusick (@johnscusick) May 6, 2021
✔️ Disenfranchising Voters
— spot (@seacatspot) May 6, 2021
The voting law follows a string of recent actions by DeSantis, seen by many as a strong GOP presidential contender in 2024.
Amid a push in many liberal cities to “defund the police,” the governor announced his plan “to fund them and then some,” saying first responders will receive $1,000 bonuses from the state.
Some want to defund the police.
In Florida, we’re funding them & then some by providing all of our heroes $1,000 bonuses. This represents more than 174,000 first responders across the state!
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 5, 2021
DeSantis has also been a strong opponent of vaccine passports. He signed an executive order against vaccine passports in Florida and called out the CDC for restrictions against the cruise line industry.
“Vaccine passports infringe on our liberty and don’t keep people safe,” he said in a tweet Tuesday.
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