DeSantis wants lawmakers to take up voter restriction bills

Official ballot boxes. Photo courtesy Washington Post

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last week plans to for new voting restrictions  that would address the issue of “ballotharvesting”  — when ballots are collected from drop-off locations — including banning the use of ballot boxes, mass mailing of mail-in ballots to voters, and requiring voters who request an absentee ballot to renew their request each year instead of every two years.

This announcement stems from the widespread speculation of voter “fraud” from Republican leaders in the 2020 presidential election. There has been no evidence of any voter fraud following investigations in numerous states.

“Today, we are taking actions to ensure Florida remains a leader on key issues regarding our electoral process, such as ballot integrity, public access to the election information, transparency of election reporting, and more. We need to make sure that our citizens have confidence in the elections, that they have the ability to vote. We want, obviously, everyone to vote. But we don’t want anyone to cheat. And we want to make sure that we strike that appropriate balance,” DeSantis said during his Palm Beach press conference.

Under this proposal, which the Legislature is expected to discuss when its session begins next week, residents would either mail-in their absentee ballot or drop it off at an election site office. Although there was no evidence of voter fraud in Florida or the election, the proposed legislature could make it harder on citizens to cast their vote with limited ballot access.

Mail-in voters from the previous election weighed in on their concerns in light of DeSantis’ proposal.

Senior FSU student Tina Aguila, a resident of Key Largo, says due to the pandemic she decided to cast her vote last year by mail.However, last-minute plans prompted her to use her local ballot box. She believes that limiting drop-off boxes would hinder voters fromvoting, and the new restrictions could flood the postal offices even more than previous years with fewer ballot locations.

“Voters in small towns will have to drive farther to vote if their nearest drop-off box is in the nearest city. Some voters don’t live in places where you can send outgoing mail, such as those in apartment complexes. What do you do if you can’t drive to a faraway drop-off box and you have a busy schedule that doesn’t correlate with waiting in line at the post office? What about those like me who forget to send theirs in and can’t take off work to vote in person? We cannot limit the options people have to vote, for that would be voter suppression,” Aguila said.

Although there was no confusion or doubt when casting her mail-in vote, FAMU student Monique Collier says she’s not a big fan of submitting her vote at ballot boxes. She said she  believes citizens should still have various options for voting.

“Everyone’s schedules are different and removing the option of dropping off your vote will definitely make it harder for people to vote conveniently or even find time to cast theirs,” Collier said.