Gov. DeSantis proposes election changes, Democrats say he’s targeting vote-by-mail

Legislative session set to begin March 1

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Feb. 19 news conference in West Palm Beach.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Feb. 19 news conference in West Palm Beach. (WPBF)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference in West Palm Beach Friday morning to talk about election security legislation he plans to push when the next legislative session begins in March.

The event, which resembled a campaign rally with a cheering crowd, was held at the Hilton Airport Palm Beach along Australian Avenue.

[TRENDING: Florida women dress as grannies to get vaccinated | NASA sticks landing on Mars | Puppy schemes rise during pandemic]

“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.”

DeSantis is looking to outlaw the practice of “ballot harvesting” in the state. That is a practice that allows third parties to collect and deliver ballots in some states.

“We should have no ballot harvesting at all in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.

The governor also took aim at ballot drop boxes. He said they posed a risk for people looking to destroy or manipulate ballots.

“You can’t leave these boxes unattended,” DeSantis said. “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?”

The Florida Democratic Party responded to the governor’s comments Friday saying his proposal would decrease access to the vote-by-mail system.

“Why do Florida Republicans want to limit vote by mail access? Well it all comes down to who has access to the franchise,” Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Marcus Dixon said in a statement. “So even though the vote by mail system worked well here in Florida this past election, any time too many people have easy access to the ballot box, Republicans feel like they need to change the rules.”

More than 11 million votes were counted in Florida for the 2020 election and 99% of results were in on Election Day, according to the governor.

“The results of 2020, from an administrative perspective, was that Florida had the most transparent and efficient election anywhere in the country,” DeSantis said. “Other states took days, weeks and even months to count their votes.”

The briefing comes as the state is still waiting on a shipment of vaccine doses delayed by severe winter storms that have hit a large swath of the U.S.

On Wednesday, the governor announced Florida was still waiting to receive more than 200,000 Moderna doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The delayed deliveries have forced some vaccine distributors to temporarily call off some vaccination appointments this week but DeSantis did say the doses were expected to arrive before the weekend.

During a news conference on Thursday, DeSantis said he did not believe that the doses had shipped yet and it could be after the weekend before they arrive in the Sunshine State.


About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.