Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Wednesday announced four key steps he is urging the state legislature to take to enhance election integrity in Florida, one of which includes elevating the crime of ballot harvesting — a Democrat favorite — to a felony.
The announcement came the morning after Tuesday night’s election, which seemed to bolster confidence among GOP voters, showing that Republicans can, in fact, win elections amid fears of election fraud and political malfeasance. Speaking from West Palm Beach, the Republican governor listed four key steps he is urging the Florida legislature to take ahead of the midterm elections. He noted the steps the state has already taken, including requiring voter ID to vote, banning ballot harvesting, stopping the unsolicited sending of ballots, and banning “Zuckerbucks,” money that tech moguls pour into nonprofits and use as “electioneering machinery.”
However, DeSantis believes safeguards should be strengthened further, which is why he is urging the legislature to take additional steps in the next session, pushing another package for election integrity reform.
First, DeSantis is urging the legislature to create the Office of Election Crimes and Security, “solely dedicated to investigating and prosecuting election fraud.” This will include sworn-in officers, as well as investigators.
“What will happen is, if someone’s ballot harvesting, you report it to these people, and this is their sole job,” he said, noting some counties take these cases but recognizing they are often overwhelmed with other issues as well.
Additionally, although ballot harvesting is already illegal in Florida, DeSantis said they are going to change the violation from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
Cleaning the voter rolls is also a top priority, and while there are requirements, “the problem is, there is no time limits on when they have to do it,” he explained.
“So we’re going to impose time frames where supervisors of elections must clean their voter rolls” of ineligible voters, the governor announced.
Finally, DeSantis said it is time to crack down on ballot drop boxes, although he noted that he is personally not a fan of those.
“But at the end of the day, it has to be in places where they can be observed the whole time, so you have video and somebody in person,” he said, explaining the additional steps that must be taken.
“So you’re going to now be in a situation where if you see if somebody brings a stack of ballots and they’re stuffing them in a drop box, you have a place that will field these complaints and immediately be able to investigate,” he explained.
DeSantis’s announcement follows a series of Republican victories on Tuesday’s election night. Among the major wins is Republican Glenn Youngkin’s defeat of Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s governor’s race, but the progressive agenda was also defeated elsewhere, including in Minneapolis, where voters rejected a measure to abolish the police force.