Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new elections bill into law Thursday, implementing Republican-backed changes to Florida’s voting laws after record voter turnout during the 2020 presidential election. The Florida Senate voted 23-17 to pass SB 90, with the House later approving it by a vote 77-40, sending it to DeSantis’s desk.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the bill would put several new restrictions in place, including requiring ID for absentee ballots and barring volunteers from handing out food and water to voters waiting in line to vote. SB 90 also puts specific limitations on ballot drop boxes in particular, such as “limits on who could drop off voters’ ballots at drop boxes, a ban on moving drop boxes within 30 days of elections, restrictions on where drop boxes could be placed and a requirement that they would all have to be monitored by elections officials whenever they’re open,” according to NBC News.
Local media outlets including the Sun-Sentinel and CBS 12 in Palm Beach reported that they were barred from viewing the bill signing. DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said the bill signing was a “Fox exclusive,” which meant only Fox News was allowed to have a camera in the room to cover the proceedings.
DeSantis signed the bill live during a segment of Fox & Friends, declaring, “Right now, I have what we think is the strongest election integrity measures in the country.”
This bill is part of a growing trend of conservative legislatures and Republican governors pushing to change state election laws, in what they say is a move to prevent voting fraud. Opponents, however, see it as taking intentional steps to restrict voting rights and access.
Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed a new voting bill into law back in March, which set new ID requirements and limits on drop boxes. The legislation prompted fierce backlash, even resulting in Major League Baseball moving their already scheduled All-Star Game from Atlanta to Colorado.
As he left the building after signing the bill, DeSantis was asked about the lack of access and the “secrecy” surrounding the signing.
“It was on national TV. It wasn’t secret,” DeSantis said.