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

November 3, 2021 Updated: November 3, 2021

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Nov. 3 asked lawmakers in his state to take on several election integrity measures when they meet for the upcoming 2022 Legislative Session, which begins in January.

“We are excited to say that next legislative session we are proposing another package of election integrity reforms that will make Florida the No. 1 state for elections,” DeSantis said. “I am excited that with this legislation, our state will be able to enforce election violations, combat voter fraud, and make sure violators are held accountable. If potential violators know they will be held accountable, they will be much less likely to engage in improper conduct in the first place.”

Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd in West Palm Beach on Wednesday, DeSantis asked legislators to add four election integrity measures to their priorities.

He said he wants lawmakers to pass legislation to create an Office of Election Crimes and Security to investigate allegations of violations of Florida’s elections laws. The proposal would make the office the largest of its kind 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 un-secure” dropbox locations.

The proposal asks for each dropbox 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, as the crowd cheered.

Once the office is in place, if people see an election-related problem, such as someone “with a stack of 50 ballots,” stuffing them into a dropbox, they will have an office to call that will investigate, he added.

The 2022 legislative proposal builds on election integrity legislation signed into law by DeSantis in May. That law strengthened voter identification requirements, prohibited the mass mailing of ballots, banned ballot harvesting, and barred private money from influencing elections in the Sunshine State.

Republicans heralded the new Florida election as one that would reinforce election integrity. Democrats charged that it was a voter-suppression measure designed to make it harder for Floridians to vote.

Correction: a previous version of this article stated an incorrect time for the legislative session when the election integrity bills would be considered. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

Nanette Holt