Beefing up penalties for those who harvest election ballots in Florida tops a list of legislation Gov. Ron DeSantis will seek during the upcoming session of the State Legislature. Ballot harvesting is the collection of ballots by individuals or groups and depositing them to ballot drop boxes, often after polls have closed.
“You want to make it very clear what’s not allowed,” DeSantis said during a press conference in West Palm Beach on Nov. 3. “And then if there is a violation you hold the people accountable.”
During the next legislative session, DeSantis said that he will ask lawmakers to establish an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Department of State that will accept election integrity-related complaints, investigate them and bring charges against those who violate Florida’s election rules.
He will also ask lawmakers to increase ballot harvesting crimes from misdemeanor to 3rd-degree felony offenses.
In addition, DeSantis said he would seek legislation that would prohibit the placement of unsecured ballot drop boxes in Florida and would require that election supervisors clean their voter rolls within a specific time frame.
In addition to his election-related legislation, DeSantis said that he would ask lawmakers to stiffen data privacy by allowing Floridians to deny so-called Big Tech companies from using their personal data without their permission, and to codify the offer of sign-on bonuses for law enforcement personnel who relocate to Florida.
The legislation is necessary to close enforcement gaps in bills passed during the last session
“I’m excited to have the ability to actually enforce – that’s what we ran into with the parental bill of rights –they didn’t put teeth into it,” DeSantis said. “I think what we’re going to do next session is figure out any weaknesses that we see from the legal perspective, to maybe make some tweaks, maybe add some strength in some places.”
Florida’s 2022 State Legislative session begins on Jan. 11.