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Florida GOP Gov. DeSantis proposes voting restriction bills for state lawmakers to pass this session


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled a slate of voting proposals Friday that he wants lawmakers to pass in their upcoming legislative session, including restricting the mass mailing of mail-in ballots and access to ballot drop boxes.

At a news conference Friday in West Palm Beach, DeSantis, a Republican, argued that the legislation proposals will increase residents’ confidence in Florida elections, strengthen election security, and transparency in the election process. DeSantis continued to peddle false claims about election security, though there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Though the details were thin about the proposed legislation, one of the measures would ban vote-by-mail ballots from being sent out to all residents, making it so only voters who request a ballot would receive one. Under the proposal, voters would need to request an absentee ballot each election year.

Another proposed measure would “address the use of ballot boxes,” which DeSantis called “a big problem” and argued that residents should either mail their absentee ballot or drop it off at an election office.

DeSantis also wants lawmakers, when they convene in March, to bolster the vote-by-mail signature verification process and to not “shut out” Florida political parties and candidates from observing the voter signature matching process.

And he hopes that the legislature will “address ballot harvesting” in the state as to not allow individuals to submit other people’s vote-by-mail ballots unless they are immediate family.

Other proposals would prohibit counties from accepting financial help from private organizations for “get out the vote” initiatives, require election supervisors to post “over-vote” ballots for the canvassing board to consider, and real-time reporting of voter turnout data.

Praising Florida’s handling of the 2020 election, DeSantis told supporters, “We need to make sure that we continue to stay ahead of the curve.”

“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. And we want to make sure that we strike that appropriate balance,” he said during the press conference.

The state legislature’s Republican leaders said Friday that they “join the Governor in his efforts to continue to make Florida the national leader on election integrity” and “look forward to working with him on this important issue.”

“Rather than resting on our laurels and congratulating one another on a successful 2020 election, our time is best spent preparing for 2022 and beyond. We don’t want to backslide,” House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson said in a joint statement Friday.

Other Republican lawmakers across the country have been pushing legislation to reform election procedure and limiting voter access in the wake of the 2020 election.

At least 28 states have introduced, pre-filed or are advancing 106 restrictive bills for the 2021 legislative session, according to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Eliza Sweren-Becker, the Brennan Center’s voting rights and elections counsel, told CNN that state lawmakers are using the “lies about voter fraud to justify policy proposals that will limit ballot access.”

DeSantis’ proposals are “unfortunately consistent with a rash of policies that have been offered to restrict voter access,” Sweren-Becker said, adding that some of the governor’s proposals appear to be based on the “faulty premise” and disproven lies about the 2020 election and voter fraud.

Former President Donald Trump pushed the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him and was fraught with widespread fraud. The Trump campaign seized on minor incidents of fraud and irregularities, which were caught or addressed by state election officials. In October, Florida elections and law enforcement officials detected and stopped a scheme that sought to register dozens of dead people to vote in Broward County.

But there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and state election officials — even elected GOP officials who supported Trump for election — denied the claim from the former President.

“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 Friday.

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