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6 May, 2021 14:54

Florida Governor DeSantis signs controversial election bills on voter ID & ballot harvesting, accused of silencing minorities

Florida Governor DeSantis signs controversial election bills on voter ID & ballot harvesting, accused of silencing minorities

Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a controversial election bill into law aimed at preventing voter fraud, but critics say the legislation makes it harder to vote, especially for black and Latino citizens.

At a signing of the bill aired by Fox & Friends on Thursday morning, DeSantis said Florida now has “the strongest election integrity measures in the country” and took aim at “ballot harvesting.”

“Right now I have what we think is the strongest election integrity measures in the country,” he said, according to Fox News. “We’re making sure we enforce voter ID…we’re also banning ballot harvesting. We’re not going to let political operatives go and get satchels of votes and dump them in some drop box.”

Similar to Georgia’s recently controversial voting laws, Florida’s new legislation places restrictions on things like ballot drop boxes. To prevent ballot harvesting, one can only return ballots from immediate family and up to two people unrelated to them. Drop boxes are also required to be supervised and will have hours limited to when election offices and voting sites are open. 

Changes to a registration record also require an identifying number, which could either be a driver’s license number or social security number. Voters are similarly required to provide such identification for absentee ballots in Georgia, something activists say discourages voting, but many conservatives have argued is necessary for preventing fraud. 

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Absentee ballots are required to be requested every election cycle under the new law too.

“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. 

A prohibition on private funds being used for “election-related expenses” is also banned in the new legislation. That decision follows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg being among some that helped provide financial support to cities last year to help with their election process. 

Activist groups like the NAACP and All Voting is Local have voiced opposition to the bill, arguing it seeks to “silence voters.”

“Black and brown voters,” the two groups and more than a dozen others argued in a public letter, often work longer hours, belong to larger households, and “rely on community voter registration drives to access the ballot, making these restrictions especially unfair.”

DeSantis’ legislation has also raised the ire of liberal critics on social media, who not only took aim at the latest batch of Republican-pushed voting integrity laws, but also criticized the Florida governor for exclusively hosting the signing of his bill on the right-leaning Fox News network.

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