Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has Democrats up in arms for signing into law what CNN calls a “restrictive voting bill” that aims to protect the integrity of voters’ rights in the state.
In an appearance on Fox & Friends on Thursday, the Florida Republican highlighted provisions of the bill which include stricter voter ID requirements for voting by mail, restrictions on ballot harvesting and banning private funding for elections.
"I have what we think is the strongest election integrity measures in the country," DeSantis said. "We're making sure we're enforcing voter ID… We're also banning ballot harvesting. We're not gonna let political operatives go and get satchels of votes to dump them in some drop box."
"We're also prohibiting mass mailing of balloting,” added DeSantis. “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."
The bill also expands observation power from political parties during ballot tabulation and tightens restrictions on the use of drop boxes.
DeSantis said the new law will continue to keep things like mail voting accessible while also protecting election integrity.
"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 of Senate Bill 90.
Democrats have slammed the bill and similar efforts in states like Georgia as “voter suppression.” As noted by Fox News, Democrats claim the legislatures are “moving ahead with new bills targeted at election security are doing so based on the falsehoods that the 2020 presidential election saw widespread fraud. DeSantis, for his part, has touted the security of the 2020 election in his state but said more needs to be done for the future.”
In response to the bill, Democrat operative and lawyer Marc Elias attacked the bill as a “voter suppression law,” highlighting that a coalition of left-wing organizations including the League of Women Voters of Florida and the Black Voters Matter Fund filed a lawsuit within minutes of the law’s passage.
The lawsuit challenges several provisions in the bill, including the restrictions on ballot drop boxes and the ban on organizations and volunteers who perform ballot harvesting, which sees party operatives returning ballots on behalf of voters.
CNN reports that a separate lawsuit was also filed on Thursday morning by Common Cause, Florida branches of the NAACP, and a disabilities rights group that describes the law as “the latest in a long line of voter suppression laws targeting Florida’s Black voters, Latino voters, and voters with disabilities.”
As reported by Fox News, the provision on the "prohibition on the use of private funds for election-related expenses” comes in response to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s private efforts to fund some states and cities to run elections, potentially giving partisan organizations undue influence over election outcomes.
The provision on drop box restrictions states that "Drop boxes must be geographically located so as to provide all voters in the county with an equal opportunity to cast a ballot," the bill says, and they "must be monitored in person."
Speaking at the event, DeSantis said that he was “not a fan” of drop boxes but noted that the legislature wanted to keep them.
“The drop boxes will be available only when they're monitored and during regular voting hours,” the governor said. "You can't just leave these boxes out where there's not supervision all hours of the night.”
Conservative organizations have been supportive of DeSantis’ efforts to protect election integrity in the state.
"Governor DeSantis has led the fight for election integrity reforms in Florida every step of the way. We applaud the governor for signing SB 90 this morning, a strong bill that will ensure it remains easy to vote and hard to cheat in the Sunshine State," Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action, said in a statement, as reported by Fox News.