Florida Is a Model for Voting But GOP Looks to Overhaul – NBC10 Philadelphia


Florida was a mannequin citizen when it got here to elections in 2020. The state confirmed off its years of voting reforms. Even as Donald Trump railed towards voting techniques elsewhere, he praised Florida and urged his supporters to belief its vote-by-mail system. And, certainly, outcomes have been reported shortly and precisely. Turnout soared.

It was all overseen by GOP officers. And Trump gained, persevering with Republicans’ rising dominance within the state.

Yet three months later, Florida Republicans have set out to overhaul the state’s voting system anyway. GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday proposed an array of voting modifications, whereas state lawmakers have launched laws that makes it tougher to vote by mail. To clarify the efforts, Florida Republicans level not to proof of issues however to the potential for voter fraud and suspicion concerning the course of.

“We need everybody to vote, however we don’t need anybody to cheat,” DeSantis stated Friday.

Florida Republicans’ push to change voting legal guidelines exhibits how deep false claims about mass voter fraud unfold by Trump have burrowed into Republicans’ perception system. The occasion is now stampeding to resolve a drawback that almost all nonpartisan consultants and courts say doesn’t exist. Their efforts are threatening to dismantle years of bipartisan strikes to increase voting in a number of states, together with locations the place the GOP has thrived beneath the present system.

And it will end in making it harder to vote.

“We cannot comprehend where they’re coming from,” stated Anjenys Gonzalez-Eilert of Florida Common Cause, noting the GOP has lengthy been a supporter and beneficiary of mail voting within the state.

Similar efforts are being repeated throughout the nation. State Republican lawmakers in Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania have launched voting payments, many geared toward curbing mail voting.

The laws displays Republicans’ widespread perception that new guidelines making it simpler to vote by mail throughout the pandemic largely benefited Democrats and brought about “irregularities.” Although there have been no indicators of widespread irregularities, they typically level to vote totals tilted in Democrat Joe Biden’s favor as mail ballots have been counted days after Election Day — a sample that was new to many states however not a signal of fraud.

But that was not a difficulty in Florida. It has lengthy allowed its election places of work to begin the laborious strategy of making ready mail ballots for counting — eradicating them from their envelopes and verifying voters’ signatures nicely earlier than Election Day. While poll counts in lots of states new to mail voting dragged on for days, Florida’s rely was fast and environment friendly.

There was no proof of fraud in Florida. Of the roughly 50 authorized circumstances Trump and his allies introduced difficult the election, none have been filed in Florida. (Even in these states the place Trump claimed there was fraud and tried to overturn the election, dozens of courts rejected his authorized claims and no important circumstances have been proved.)

Florida officers take satisfaction of their current report. Ever for the reason that drama of the 2000 presidential election recount — when “hanging chads” turned the state into a nationwide joke — the state has labored to shed its picture because the exemplar for elections gone mistaken.

Election officers have labored to shore up belief within the state’s election system — by altering how ballots are designed, modernizing vote-counting gear and investing hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to shield towards cyberthreats.

Even DeSantis took credit score for November’s efficiency.

“We did it proper,” he stated Friday earlier than supporters in West Palm Beach.

Still, he argued for tightening voting legal guidelines. His proposal consists of proscribing using drop containers the place voters can deposit mail ballots and stopping different folks from dropping off voters’ ballots, a apply many label “ballot harvesting.” DeSantis additionally appeared to endorse the Republican invoice that will make mail balloting tougher by requiring voters to request a mail poll each year, slightly than enable them to make one request that stands for two years’ price of elections.

The proposal is notable as a result of for years Republicans dominated vote by mail in Florida, and it was embraced by the state’s many older voters. It helped the GOP cement a sturdy statehouse majority and narrowly win statewide races.

But the Republicans in Florida lost that edge final year. Trump railed towards mail voting, and GOP voters’ belief within the system sank, in accordance to polls.In Florida, his complaints alarmed state Republicans, and Trump despatched out tweets stating that in Florida, the place he voted by mail, the system was “Safe and Secure, Tried and True.”

In the top, Democrats within the state outvoted Republicans by mail for the primary time in years as a report 4.9 million Floridians voted by mail. Democrats cast 680,000 extra mail ballots than Republicans did.

The new invoice would primarily wipe these new Democratic voters from the rolls forward of 2022, when DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio lead the record of incumbent Republicans up for reelection.

“Republicans used to have the advantage, and now it’s the Democrats who have the advantage. So now it’s time to make a change,” stated marketing campaign strategist Mac Stipanovich, a former Republican.

“There’s no doubt that these are voter suppression efforts,” stated Stipanovich, including that the tactic in Florida might make voting by mail harder for people who find themselves poor, much less educated and haven’t got intensive expertise in voting.

Republicans have pushed a comparable change in Arizona, one other state the place GOP lawmakers helped create a bipartisan, common system however at the moment are transferring to change it. Their effort suffered an early blow this week when the Arizona Senate voted down a invoice to purge about 200,000 folks from the state’s absentee voter record. One Republican senator joined all 14 Democrats to kill the measure in a 15-15 tie.

In Georgia, a previously pink state that Democrats narrowly gained each in November after which in two Senate runoff elections in January, lawmakers held a heated listening to over Republican proposals to curtail mail voting and eradicate early in-person voting on Sundays, when Black church buildings typically ship parishioners to the polls.

In Florida, state Sen. Dennis Baxley, the invoice’s writer, says he is not attempting for any partisan benefit however merely desires to reverse a 2007 measure that created the two-year window.

Notably, Baxley was the lawmaker who helped go that measure. He now says he cannot bear in mind his reasoning on the time. “Lots has occurred in 13 years,” he said. “I just think it’s time for a reset.”


Riccardi reported from Denver.


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