Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference in West Palm Beach on Friday where he announced a number of election integrity reforms that target drop boxes and ballot harvesting specifically.
The legislation that he intends to pursue when the next legislative session begins in March would also ban “mass mailing of vote-by-mail ballots,” require voters to request vote-by-mail ballots each year and require the signature found on a ballot to match the most recent one on file and implement transparency in the counting of ballots. Candidates and political party members would be allowed to observe signatures being matched.
Also proposed is disallowing counties to receive grants from private third-party entities who are conducting “get out the vote” efforts.
“We have led on this issue from the very beginning,” DeSantis stated. “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.”
Video Credit: WPLG Local 10
DeSantis informed his attentive audience that his intent was to ensure “citizens have confidence in the elections.”
“We want everyone to vote, we don’t want anyone to cheat,” he admonished. DeSantis said they were trying to “strike the appropriate balance.”
Ballot harvesting is already illegal in Florida. DeSantis is going after those who “volunteer” to round up ballots.
“My view is: We should have no ballot harvesting,” he emphatically stated prompting cheers from the audience.
By strengthening these election integrity protections, we will ensure that Florida’s electoral process remains secure, transparent, and a blueprint for other states to follow. More info here – https://t.co/cI3WZw8W6d
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 19, 2021
The governor also addressed ballot drop boxes. He claims they facilitate people looking to destroy or manipulate ballots. DeSantis called them “a big problem” and said that voters should mail in their absentee ballot or take it to a nearby election office.
“You can’t leave these boxes unattended,” DeSantis stated. “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?”
Another goal set by DeSantis will require “real-time reporting of voter turnout data at the precinct level,” and permit voters to observe “how many ballots have been requested, how many have been received, and how many are left to be counted.”
The media was quick to assert that DeSantis’ press conference “resembled a campaign rally with a cheering crowd.” They noted that the audience was rowdy and mostly maskless as well. Democrats in the state are extremely alarmed at DeSantis’ election integrity agenda because they claim it could curtail voting.
“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 proclaimed.
Rep. Blaise Ingoglia referenced the use of drop boxes in the state. He claimed, “some of these supervisors of elections have gone rogue when it comes to these drop boxes. We need to rein them in big time.”
“We are going to stop elections officials hiding in the backroom, duplicating ballots, matching signatures,’’ Ingoglia declared. “That needs to be open, in front, and transparent for the world to see.”
He then labeled the Democratic H.R. 1 election reform proposal that would promote automatic voter registration and expand ballot access as “institutionalized ballot fraud.”
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