Florida Gov. DeSantis Signs Elections Bill, Closed To Local Reporters

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the controversial elections bill into law on Thursday in an event that was unusually closed to local news reporters.

The bill signing was held at the Hilton by the Palm Beach International Airport Thursday morning and broadcasted live only on ‘Fox and Freinds’.

Members of local news outlets were not allowed inside and the governor’s staff called the event a “Fox News exclusive,” according to WPTV news.

DeSantis tweeted just after 8:30 a.m. to say he’d be joining “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning for the signing of the bill.

Columnist Steve Bousquet with the Sun-Sentinel tweeted images from outside the closed event on Twitter and said hundreds of guests were in attendance and given DeSantis campaign stickers.

“How Florida reporters cover a bill signing in the DeSantis era,” said Bousquet. “Press barred from campaign-style rally election-law restrictions at an airport hotel in West Palm Beach.”

The bill was strongly opposed by voting rights groups and Democrats who called it offensive, the Miami Herald reported. They argued the legislation will make it harder for Floridians to vote in upcoming elections.

“The League believes the bill’s sweeping changes will undoubtedly make it harder for Floridians to cast their ballot,” League of Women Voters of Florida President Patti Brigham told the Miami Herald in a statement.

However, Republican state lawmakers relented on a number of more stringent measures that had originally been included in the bill, according to the Miami Herald. It doesn’t ban drop boxes or require someone to show identification when placing their ballot in a dropbox and doesn’t introduce stricter signature verification mandates.

Senate Bill 90 bans ballot harvesting, prohibits unsolicited mass mailing of ballots, increases election transparency, and prohibits private money from administering elections.

While Florida already requires identification to vote, Senate Bill 90 will require additional identification information when changing any voter registration information, or requesting a vote by mail ballot, preventing fraud and securing the voter rolls.

Under this law, a person may not handle more than two ballots other than those of immediate family members. There is an exemption for ballots collected during supervised voting at assisted living facilities and nursing homes to make sure no undue burden is caused for Florida’s most vulnerable

The proposal bans the mass mailing of ballots, ensuring that vote-by-mail ballots are only sent to the individuals that requested them, and only if requested for each election cycle they intend to vote by mail.

The bill also increases election transparency, allowing each political party and candidate guaranteed access to observe signature matching reviews by the canvassing board, and allows for appointed watchers on their behalf.

During the Fox News segment and bill signing this morning, DeSantis said, “We’re also banning ballot harvesting. We’re not going to let political operatives go and get satchels of votes and dump them in some dropbox. We’re also prohibiting mass mailing a baling. We’ve had absentee voting in Florida for a long time. You request a ballot you get it and then you can mail it in but to just indiscriminately send them out is not a recipe for success. We’re increasing transparency even better in Florida.”

“Florida took action this legislative session to increase transparency and strengthen the security of our elections,” said DeSantis. “Floridians can rest assured that our state will remain a leader in ballot integrity. Elections should be free and fair, and these changes will ensure this continues to be the case in the Sunshine State. I’d like to thank our legislative leaders on this issue – Senate President Wilton Simpson, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Senator Dennis Baxley, and Representative Blaise Ingoglia.”

During a second press conference in Panama City, Florida, on Thursday, DeSantis was asked by a reporter why the SB90 bill signing was only on Fox News, DeSantis responded, “It was live on national television on Fox & Friends and we were happy to give them the exclusive on that and I think it went really really well but that’s broadcast to millions of people. not just in obviously throughout the whole country but huge number of people in Florida are watching that. We had a crowd, we probably had a thousand people in the crowd that were really cheering on so it was an exciting day to be able to do that and it is first bill signing I’ve ever done live on a on a national broadcast and so it was good.”

Minutes after DeSantis signed the bill, Democratic attorney Marc Elias said that he had filed suit against it on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matter Fund and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans on the grounds that it violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Related News: ‘Cowardly Act’ Florida Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried Fires Back At DeSantis On Election Reform Bill

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