Florida Governor Signs Law That Limits Voting By Mail And Ballot Drop Boxes
Updated May 6, 2021 at 2:31 PM ET
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Thursday new election legislation that places restrictions on ballot drop boxes and residents' ability to vote by mail.
The governor said the changes amount to what he thinks are "the strongest election integrity measures in the country."
DeSantis signed the bill on Thursday morning at a private event with a fan club for former President Donald Trump. Local reporters were banned from the event, but it was carried live on Fox News.
Florida's law is the latest Republican-led effort to alter state voting rules following record-breaking turnout during the 2020 election.
The bill, SB90, had passed the Florida Senate with a vote of 23-17 and the House 77-40. Earlier versions of the legislation would have banned the use of ballot drop boxes altogether, but last-minute changes allowed for their use under new limitations.
Changes included restrictions on who can drop off a voter's ballot, requiring the location of a drop box to be chosen at least 30 days before an election, and that election officials must supervise the drop boxes in person while they're open.
The measure also limits who can hand out any item, including food or water or election-related material, to voters waiting in line. Items can't be given to voters within 150 feet of a ballot box. Only volunteers or staff working with the election supervisor can "provide nonpartisan assistance" to voters within that area.
The new law also requires voters to request mail-in ballots regularly and places restrictions on third-party voter registration groups. Ballot counting observers will be allowed for each political party official and candidate after polls close.
Despite the changes to Florida's election laws, the state remains one of the easiest places to cast a ballot. The state has no-excuse mail-in voting and a mandatory eight days of early voting. Many Democratic-led counties allow early voting for two weeks ahead of an election.
Florida's voting measure is part of a nationwide effort to alter how states conduct elections and to restrict expanded voter access. A controversial law approved in March in Georgia was slammed by voting rights activists and Democrats as voter suppression.
Major businesses with ties to Texas and Georgia criticized attempts to curb voter access. The fallout in Georgia resulted in Major League Baseball moving this year's All-Star Game out of Atlanta.
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