DeSantis Introduces Election Integrity Bills to Go Before Legislature in Special Session
DeSantis Introduces Election Integrity Bills to Go Before Legislature in Special Session

By Nanette Holt

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Nov. 3 asked legislators in his state to take on several election integrity measures when they meet for a special session later this month.

The Republican governor had initially called for the special session of the Florida Legislature to strengthen the state’s ability to block vaccine and school mask mandates.

Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd in West Palm Beach on Wednesday, he asked legislators to add four election integrity measures to the priorities for the special legislative session on Nov. 15-19.

DeSantis wants to create an Office of Election Crimes and Security to investigate allegations of violations of Florida’s elections laws. The proposal would make that the largest election security office in the nation, with 25 sworn law enforcement officers and additional investigators. The office would be solely dedicated to investigating and prosecuting election crimes.

The governor wants to elevate the crime of ballot harvesting from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. Ballot harvesting, which is legal in some states, involves a coordinated effort to collect and drop off absentee ballots.

“The first person who gets caught—no one’s going want to do it again after that,” DeSantis said.

Another proposal would require timelines for county supervisors of elections to clean up voter rolls, removing voters who have died, moved, or become ineligible for some other reason.

The governor is also calling for a law to “crack down on haphazard and unsecure” drop-box locations.

The proposal asks for each drop box to have a person supervising it and to have camera surveillance. DeSantis wants drop boxes removed immediately after voting ends, so they can be taken directly to a supervised area for counting.

“I don’t even think there should be drop boxes,” the governor said.

Now, if people see an election-related problem, such as someone “with a stack of 50 ballots,” they will have an office to call, and that will be investigated, he added.

In the special legislative session, the governor also has called for action to ban private employer vaccine mandates, strengthen the state’s Parents’ Bill of Rights, disqualify employers mandating vaccinations from having liability protection, allow those harmed by vaccinations to sue employers, and opt out of federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation.

DeSantis is up for reelection in 2022.

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