Politics What Do Florida's New Election Laws Say? Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Curbing Mail-In Voting
Dems fume over silence from DeSantis on Florida election
Democrats are voicing frustration with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) over the special election for the late Rep. Alcee Hastings's (D-Fla.) seat.Hastings, who represented a majority Black district in South Florida for nearly three decades, died early this month after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Florida law gives DeSantis broad authority to set a date for the special election to replace him, but he has so far remained silent on when voters can expect to choose their next representative.
On Thursday morning, Florida Governorsigned into law a controversial voting bill aimed at curbing access to mail-in voting.
The state's new election laws will include stricter voter ID requirements for voting by mail, create limits on who can pick up and return a voter's ballot at drop boxes and ban election officials from using private funding to pay for elections.
Florida Democrats' midterm fantasy faceoff: DeSantis vs. Demings
A DeSantis vs. Demings race could foreshadow how DeSantis might fare in 2024 or even in 2028 against another powerful woman of color currently one heartbeat away from the presidency. No matter who wins, Florida's gubernatorial election will impact America's political stage.Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor. She served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.
"Me signing this bill says: Florida, your vote counts, your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency and this is a great place for democracy," DeSantis said as he signed the bill during an appearance on& Friends.
After days of debate and last-minute amendments toBill 90, the state's Republican-controlled state House and Senate came to an agreement and voted to approve the legislation along party lines on the last day of Florida's legislative session.
An earlier proposal of the bill had banned the use of ballot drop boxes outright but the new law permits their use so long as election officials follow new constraints.
Under the new legislation, drop boxes will only be available during regular voting hours when they are monitored by in-person election officials. Voters will be required to show a photo ID when using a drop box, which had previously only been required for in-person voting in Florida.
DeSantis signs GOP-backed election bill
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that will change the way the Sunshine State conducts its elections, despite his praise for 2020. DeSantis signed the bill, which was passed last week, on Thursday morning at a Hilton in West Palm Beach, Florida. Only Fox News was permitted inside the event.The bill prevents state agencies from sending voting-by-mail ballots to people who didn’t request one, disallows ballot harvesting (the collection of ballots by a third party who then turns them in to election officials), and puts restrictions on the hours of operations for drop boxes.
There is also a ban on moving drop boxes within 30 days of elections and restrictions on where they can be placed. Drop boxes will only be allowed when stationed at election supervisors' offices or early-voting sites. During the 2020 election, counties made drop boxes available before early-voting periods and installed them in libraries and community centers.
DeSantis has stated that he is "not a fan" of drop boxes but that the legislature wanted to keep them in the bill.
Election officials who do not comply with the new rules are subject to a $25,000 fine. They will also be prohibited from accepting private money, which many offices across the nation did last year to help with the costs of running elections during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new election law requires voters to request to vote by mail more regularly. Until now, a mail ballot application would qualify voters to receive a ballot through the next two general applications. The new law will require voters to submit a new application every year.
Florida Hit With Lawsuit Minutes After Ron DeSantis Signs New Voting Bill
The controversial legislation immediately faces legal challenges.The voting bill adds more limits to voting in Florida similar to legislation in other states, where critics say GOP leadership are pushing an agenda connected to former President Donald Trump's widely disproven claims of election fraud.
Voters will also have to provide their Florida driver's license, or identification card number or the last four digits of their Social Security number when requesting a mail ballot or when updating the address associated with voter registration.
"We're also prohibiting mass mailing of balloting. We've had absentee voting in Florida for a long time. You request the ballot. You get it. And you mail it in. But to just indiscriminately send them out is not a recipe for success," DeSantis said on Thursday.
The new law will require third-party organization that do voter registration drives to register with the state and will ban mass third-party ballot collection at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
While the bill does not go as far as the one in Georgia that prohibits the distribution of food and water to voters at the polls, Florida's new law added, "Engaging in any activity with the intent to influence or effect of influencing a voter" to the definition of prohibited solicitation by campaign volunteers and third-party groups.
Florida Newspaper Slams Gov. DeSantis for Pushing 'Big Lie' With Election Bill
"What makes this charade all the worse is that the only known case of election fraud in Florida from the 2020 election involves a Republican," the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's editorial board wrote.State Republican lawmakers across the country have pushed for major election reforms and restrictions following President Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election, as well as Democrats narrowly flipping control of the Senate. DeSantis signed a GOP-backed election bill on Thursday, as former President Donald Trump—a Florida resident—and his allies continue to groundlessly claim that the 2020 election was "rigged" or "stolen" as they push for the election changes.
Florida is the latest GOP-led state to enact voting changes after the 2020 presidential election. Even though former Presidenteasily carried the state last November, his false claims about voter fraud have led the push for new restrictions on voters and election officials from a number of Republican-controlled state legislatures.
Nearly all of Florida's county-level election supervisors have opposed the legislation, warning that the changes could lead to long lines at the polls and make their jobs more difficult during elections.
Two federal lawsuits seeking to block the law were filed almost immediately after DeSantis signed the bill, one on First Amendment grounds and the other under the Voting Rights Act as well as the First, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
Florida's new law goes into effect July 1, 2021.
Ron DeSantis is on a path to 2024. Democrats have a chance to blow it up. .
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a clear pathway to running for president in 2024, emerging from the coronavirus pandemic as the most recognizable Republican governor in the country. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Hyatt Regency on February 26, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.