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At an event on Thursday that banned all local media outlets except for Fox News, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a controversial elections overhaul bill that imposes sweeping new restrictions on voting.

Why it matters: The law increases restrictions on drop boxes, requires voters to sign up for mail-in ballots every year and limits who can drop off ballots at drop boxes.

  • It also prevents campaign volunteers and third-party groups from "engaging in any activity with the intent to influence or effect of influencing a voter," which could deter food and water from being provided to voters in line.
  • Opponents say the law will make it more difficult to vote in the state, and will disproportionately impact communities of color.

What they're saying: With a cheering crowd behind him, DeSantis told Fox & Friends in an "exclusive" broadcast that he believes the law includes the "strongest election integrity measures in the country."

  • "Me signing this bill here says, 'Florida, your vote counts. Your vote is going to cast with integrity and transparency, and this is a great place for democracy,'" DeSantis said.
  • The event was billed as a rally "for the best governor in the USA." It's unclear if it was an official governor's event or campaign rally, per the Washington Post.

Emily Bloch, president of the Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, said in a statement on Twitter: "Signing a law into office isn’t supposed to be an ‘exclusive,’ since the law itself isn’t exclusive."

  • "Actions like this openly defy against a free press. We condemn DeSantis’ office barring journalists from doing their job for the sake of good TV.”

The big picture: Florida is one of a number of Republican-run states — including Georgia, which has faced intense backlash — that have either passed or are considering new voting restrictions after the 2020 election.

  • Many of the laws are based on unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud propagated by former President Trump.
  • Hundreds of corporations and voting rights groups have embarked on a pressure campaign to stop the laws from taking effect.

Go deeper ... Mapped: Which states are weighing voting changes

Go deeper

DeSantis schedules special election to replace Alcee Hastings for January

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced on Tuesday that a special election to replace Rep. Alcee Hastings, who died in April, will be held in January.

Why it matters: "Democrats urged DeSantis to fill the seat quickly — arguing that leaving a majority Black and heavily Democratic seat in Broward and Palm Beach counties unoccupied for months deprives thousands of Floridians of representation," the Miami Herald noted.

Tampa mayor blindsided by DeSantis order ending Florida safety measures

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

If you dial 813-274-8251, you'll get Mayor Jane Castor's office, and Tampa's chill enough that they might just put Her Honor on the phone.

State of play: That might be why she was surprised to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis say Monday that he's using executive power to unilaterally end local pandemic safety measures effective immediately.

  • The governor never called the mayor of Florida's third largest city.

"There was no consultation or warning prior to that announcement," Castor told Axios' Niala Boodhoo for Axios Today.

May 5, 2021 - Podcasts

Reopening Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed an executive order suspending all COVID-19 restrictions in the Sunshine State, which includes preventing local governments from imposing their own restrictions. Less than 30% of Florida's population is fully vaccinated so far.

  • Plus, holding companies accountable on racial justice.
  • And, the real history of Cinco de Mayo.