TAMPA (WFLA) – At a press conference Friday morning in Palm Beach County, Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced several new measures to restrict voting access.
“We want, you know, obviously, everyone to vote,” DeSantis said to a friendly crowd. “But we don’t want anyone to cheat.”
The measures include eliminating the ability for anyone outside of your immediate family to pick up and drop off your ballot.
“In Florida, you’re not allowed to pay someone to do ballot harvesting or anything like that,” DeSantis said. “But, people can volunteer—”volunteer”—and potentially handle a lot of ballots. My view is we should have no ballot harvesting at all in the state of Florida.”
Voting rights groups like the ACLU and League of Women Voters point out that volunteers who collect ballots can be helpful for seniors, people with disabilities, and people who live in low-income communities that may not have their own transportation.
DeSantis admitted that Florida is “not a big ballot harvesting state as it is.” Florida also does not send out mail ballots without a voter requesting one.
Yet both measures were among the items DeSantis wants to eliminate, along with ballot drop-off boxes. The boxes were extremely popular this year when voters used them to avoid large crowds at voting sites.
Other proposals DeSantis made included forcing voters to resubmit vote-by-mail requests each election year, and prohibiting counties from receiving grants from private third-party organizations for “get out the vote” initiatives.
Election officials were also targeted in the legislation, requiring “real-time reporting of voter turnout data at the precinct level,” which is already done in many counties.
“Supervisors of Elections must also report how many ballots have been requested, how many have been received, and how many are left to be counted,” according to a release from the governor’s office, again a practice many counties already do.
The legislation, which is being sponsored in next month’s state legislative session by State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Hernando), may have some difficulty getting bipartisan support.
“I’m gonna take a look very hard at this, but to me if it’s not broken then we shouldn’t be fixing it,” said State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-Pinellas).
“It’s voter suppression,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the state’s highest-elected Democrat. “They can’t win fair and square at the ballot box. They continuously find ways to roll back access to the voting system and ways to vote.”
Watch Battleground Florida every Sunday morning at 9:30 on WFLA News Channel 8 right before Meet the Press.