Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Proposes Legislation Affecting Elections

Updated: Oct 16, 2021

On Feb. 19, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proposed new legislation to regulate elections. He addressed the use of ballot drop boxes, suggesting that their use could lead to ballot harvesting, and compared the in-person voting process to drop boxes. During a press report, he said, “If you go in to vote on Election Day … no one can even talk to you … how could you say that that’s how you do it in person, and then somehow someone can just harvest hundreds of votes and dump it in some dropbox?”

DeSantis also spoke on absentee voting, saying, “We believe that you should have absentee [voting], but it should be by request.” This is in direct contrast to states that administer all-mail elections, whether entirely or on a case-by-case basis, which automatically sends mail-in ballots to all registered voters.

A press release from his staff also endorsed prohibiting counties from receiving private grants for GOTV initiatives, as well as real-time reporting of precinct-level voter turnout data. 

DeSantis’s speech was met with criticism and accusations of voter suppression, especially from Democrats and left-leaning politicians. “DeSantis … [is] continuing Trump’s malignant campaign of election disinformation, even though we did not have allegations of voter fraud or any major problems with our elections,” said state Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Many, if not all of DeSantis’ proposals, centered around maintaining transparency. “We need to make sure that our citizens have confidence in the elections, that they have the ability to vote— we want, obviously, everyone to vote, but we don’t want anyone to cheat,” he said

The integrity of mail-in voting was highly debated during the 2020 presidential election, but numerous government officials have validated the process. In a testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Sept. 2020, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the FBI had not seen “any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise,” but that it had seen “voter fraud at the local level” and that the FBI was “vigilant as to the threat” and “watching it carefully.”

Likewise, the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees released a joint statement on Nov. 12, 2020, saying that there was “no evidence that any voting system … was in any way compromised.” Former Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Chris Krebs, was subsequently fired by Trump following the statement’s release.

Attorney General William Barr also said that the Department of Justice had not seen “fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.” 

Wray, Krebs, and Barr were all appointed by Trump.

Through Teen Lenses: Recently, FL Governor Ron DeSantis proposed legislation that would have absentee voting available only by request and prohibit counties from receiving private grants for GOTV initiatives, among other propositions. Do you think electoral regulation like this is more beneficial or more detrimental to the voting process, and why?

“[It’s] more detrimental, absentee voting makes it easier to vote, and a lot of people might not know you have to request it.” Michael Ma, 19, Freshman at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
“No, I do not think this electoral regulation is beneficial… it not only requires absentee voters to request their ballot specifically, making harder for more people to vote, but it also prevents many voters from voting by limiting the effects of GOTV.” Jay Capitelli, 18, Freshman at University of Maryland College Park, Rockville, MD
“The legislation being proposed… would result in voter suppression. Signature matching disproportionately affects disabled people, gender non-conforming people, trans people, and people who do not have English as a first language. Restricting GOTV initiatives also stops people who don’t know how to register or cannot register without assistance from obtaining ballots. It also disproportionately affects lower-income areas. The implementation of legislation that requires you to request your ballot every year results in the exclusion of people with disabilities and people who cannot vote in person due to accessibility issues.” Anonymous

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