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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces plan in West Palm Beach to improve elections security

Reform package would create office to investigate, prosecute election crimes
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Hilton Palm Beach Airport in West Palm Beach on Nov. 3, 2021.jpg
Posted at 9:33 AM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 17:31:00-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday spoke in West Palm Beach about improving elections security across the Sunshine State.

During a news conference at the Hilton Palm Beach Airport, the governor announced a new package of "election integrity reforms" that will be debated by Florida lawmakers during next year's Legislative Session, which runs from Jan. 11 to March 11.

Under the plan, a separate office would be created at the state level, solely dedicated to investigating and prosecution election crimes in Florida.

"We'll have sworn law enforcement officers as part of this. We'll have investigators. We'll have the statewide prosecutor that's able to bring the cases," DeSantis said.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks about election security in West Palm Beach

The second reform would make ballot harvesting — which is when political workers collect absentee ballots from voters' homes and drop them off at polling locations — a third-degree felony.

Ballot harvesting is currently banned in Florida and is a misdemeanor crime.

"I'm really excited about having actual ability to enforce," DeSantis said. "No one is gonna want to do it again after that, because they know there's gonna be enforcement."

The reform package will also impose timeframes where Supervisors of Elections must clean and update their voting rolls — a registry of people who are entitled to vote for certain elections in a certain jurisdiction — by a specific date.

DeSantis said this will cut down on the number of ballots being incorrectly sent to people who are no longer Florida residents and ineligible to vote in the Sunshine State.

"I know people who say, hey, my father passed away three years ago. He still gets ballots sent to his house. We don't want that," DeSantis said.

The governor on Wednesday fired up the crowd with hints at his run for re-election next year. Mixed in with the promises of election reform, DeSantis went off on a number of topics, railing against mask and vaccine mandates, attacking big tech, and seemingly enjoying a "Brandon" chant from supporters.

"Do you even know how that started? You have the media hand wringing over this," DeSantis said.

The verbal jab at President Joe Biden was only part of the speech in which DeSantis boasted of welcoming new residents fleeing California over crime and New Uork over high taxes.

"Who has better roads and better infrastructure and who has better education?" DeSantis said.

"This is absolutely out of the Republican playbook," said Terrie Rizzo with the Palm Beach County Democratic Party.

But even political observers like Professor Charles Aelden of Nova Southeastern University agree.

"It really angers democrats which is the motivation behind this. It’s about owning the libs," Aelden said.