Gov. DeSantis proposes election restrictions for Florida lawmakers to pass this session
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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WCJB) - Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled a slate of voting proposals that would restrict the mass mailing of mail-in-ballots and access to ballot drop boxes.
The Florida governor announced his proposals regarding elections ahead of the upcoming legislative session.
“The result of 2020, from an administrative perspective, was that Florida had the most transparent and efficient election anywhere in the country,” DeSantis said. “The results speak for themselves, but we also can’t rest on our laurels. We need to make sure that we continue to stay ahead of the curve.”
DeSantis told reporters that the state is “not a big ballot harvesting state as it is,” but said he “doesn’t want any room where it can be abused.”
Ballot harvesting is a practice that allows third parties to collect, deliver ballots in some states.
“We should have no ballot harvesting at all in the state of Florida,” he said.
According to a release from the governor’s office, the proposal will include that voters make vote-by-mail requests every year rather than every two years. It would also mandate that no one could handle ballots other than their own and those of their immediate family.
The proposed legislation also noted drop boxes as an issue. Florida has used drop boxes for several years prior to this last election with no problems, however, it has become a major talking point among for former president Donald Trump and his supporters.
DeSantis said these boxes posed a risk for people looking to destroy or manipulate ballots.
“You can’t leave these boxes unattended,” DeSantis said. “I think that you can take it, put it in the mail or take it to the elections office. Why do you need to have these things out there?
“Any drop boxes need to be monitored by the election’s office the entire time. You can’t leave these boxes unattended,” he added.
DeSantis also noted that counties in Florida should report results in realtime, so there is more transparency.
The Florida Democratic Party responded to the governor’s comments.
“Why do Florida Republicans want to limit vote by mail access? Well it all comes down to who has access to the franchise,” Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Marcus Dixon said in a statement. “So even though the vote by mail system worked well here in Florida this past election, any time too many people have easy access to the ballot box, Republicans feel like they need to change the rules.”
Statewide, Republicans have regularly outpaced Democrats in mail in voting, until 2020, when Democrats took a 600,000 vote lead. DeSantis won by fewer than 33,000 votes in 2018, when the GOP had a 54,000 mail in ballot advantage.
Records show that in 2020 more Democrats returned vote-by-mail ballots in the three most populated counties in North Central Florida. In Marion County, nearly 3,200 more Democrats returned mail in ballots, while in Alachua County just under 25,000 more Democrats voted by mail.
Only 56 more Democrats than Republicans returned vote by mail ballots in Columbia County.
“I think these proposals will strengthen us even more. And I think it will put us in the catbird seat as these other elections come up and people will continue to really look for Florida,” DeSantis said.
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