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Florida Republicans pass bill adding restrictions to ballot drop boxes and vote by mail

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has touted the security and success of Florida’s 2020 election, expected to sign the bill into law

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at his State of the State address at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks Tuesday, March 2, 2021, during his State of the State address at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla.
Phil Sears, Associated Press

Florida lawmakers have passed new voting legislation which tightens rules around ballot drop box and mail-in votes procedures in the state — reforms Florida Republicans say will help prevent voter fraud.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — who months ago touted the security and success of Florida’s 2020 election — is expected to sign the bill into law. Republican lawmakers have passed the bill after Florida Democrats outvoted the GOP in vote by mail last fall.

The new legislation updates voter identification requirements, tightens vote by mail and ballot drop box rules and places new restrictions on food and water distribution by election workers, Tampa’s WFLA 8 reported.

  • If passed, the law would only allow drop boxes to be open during business hours of early voting locations and require election official supervision of the drop boxes, according to The Associated Press.
  • “Only immediate family members, including grandchildren, would be allowed to return a voter’s ballot,” reported WFLA 8.

“The measure was far different from some of the more severe measures proposed initially, including an outright ban on ballot drop boxes and a requirement to present identification when dropping off those ballots,” the AP reported.

Republican voters in Florida have typically outvoted Democrats when casting mail-in votes, reported Florida Politics.

  • In the 2020 election, Florida Democrats outvoted the GOP by mail, according to Florida Politics.
  • State Republicans passed the new legislation along party lines, the AP reported.

No evidence of voter fraud

In February, DeSantis rolled out the proposed legislation.

  • “Last November, Florida held the smoothest, most successful election of any state in the country. While we should celebrate this feat, we should not rest on our laurels,” the Republican governor said in a statement at the time.
  • “By strengthening these election integrity protections, we will ensure that our elections remain secure and transparent, and that Florida’s electoral process remains a blueprint for other states to follow,” DeSantis’ statement reads.

Florida Supervisor of Elections president Craig Latimer has said the legislation will make it harder for Florida to vote, even though there is no evidence of voter fraud in the Sunshine State, according to Gainesville’s WUFT radio.

  • “I haven’t seen any fraud and I haven’t heard one of the legislators cite a specific incident of fraud as they debated the bill,” he said, reported WUFT — a public radio affiliate.
  • “The majority party through last-minute maneuvers passed a voter suppression bill mimicking what took place in Georgia,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Fla., the AP reported.

Former Trump administration Attorney General William Barr have said there was no evidence of election fraud. Trump’s Department of Homeland Security “declared the 2020 election the most secure in history,” according to Vox.

Donald Trump, and supporters of the former president, continued to insist he lost reelection due to voter fraud.

Will there be backlash in Florida?

Earlier this month, Georgia Republicans passed an election reform bill that will change how Peach State voters cast their ballot, while opponents of the new election law says it is a return to Jim Crow era voting restriction.

Republicans state lawmakers changed the voting laws after two Georgia Democrats were elected to the U.S. Senate.

The passage of the voting reform bill there led to Atlanta-based companies Delta Air Lines and The Coca-Cola Company to publicly rebuke the legislations. Major League Baseball also chose to move the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of the new law.