Florida may not have had the same election issues as other battleground states in November, but that doesn't mean they're satisfied. Governor Ron DeSantis (R) believes the Sunshine State has a lot to be proud of when it comes to 2020, but he still thinks they can do better.
"Last November," DeSantis told reporters at a press conference on Friday, "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. Today," he announced, "we are taking action to ensure that Florida remains a leader on key issues regarding our electoral process, such as ballot integrity, public access to election information, transparency of election reporting and more."
With his new proposal, DeSantis is joining 32 other states in suggesting major overhauls to their election process. Building on a piece of legislation that's already been filed in the state Senate, he asks for key changes like banning ballot harvesting from anyone but an immediate family member, limiting mail-in ballots, forcing voters to apply for those mail-in ballots every year (instead of every two years), demanding signature matching for ballots, and regulating ballot drop boxes.
State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R) is helping to lead the charge, explaining that "some of these supervisors of elections have gone rogue when it comes to these drop boxes. We need to rein them in big time." On a broader scale, he promises, "We are going to stop elections officials hiding in the backroom, duplicating ballots, matching signatures. That needs to be open, in front, and transparent for the world to see."
Another controversial area DeSantis plans to address is the flood of "get-out-the-vote" money from private groups -- like Mark Zuckerberg's Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), which helped rewrite the election rules in more than 2,500 U.S. jurisdictions. For months, Phill Kline and others have argued that this was one of the biggest problems of 2020. "We had a shadow government managing these elections, particularly in the urban core," he explained. "They set up these procedures that allowed for the breach of the chain of custody of the ballots and the infusion of fraudulent ballots."
With the country pounded by coronavirus and congressional talks at a standstill, the Facebook titan chipped in his own money to help keep the election on track. Or so he said. Using CTCL as a screen, Zuckerberg started funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to local elections offices to help deal with the shortfalls during the pandemic. Instead, they were deciding how many poll places should be open, hiring the people who count the vote -- and paying them -- setting up new drop boxes, and sending activists-turned-election officials into neighborhoods to collect ballots. "This is like the elections brought to you by Coca-Cola or the National Rifle Association," Kline shook his head, "except it's Mark Zuckerberg."
Under Florida's plan, that would end. No "private, third-party organizations" would be able to funnel cash to Florida precincts under the auspices of "helping" local election officials. "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."
In just two months, more than 165 bills have been filed to deal with the mess of 2020 -- four times the amount of last year. So be encouraged -- and more importantly, get involved! If your state is debating election reform, make sure your voice is heard. If they aren't, contact your state officials and suggest one of these 10 ways that they can weed out fraud.