Apr 14, 2021 - Politics

DeSantis pushes for more restrictive Florida voting laws despite rejected ballot in 2016

Illustration of a magnifying glass over a “I voted” sticker

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis’ primary ballot was rejected for not having a matching signature when he was a congressman in 2016, NBCLX reports.

Why it matters: DeSantis is now at the forefront of the "voter integrity" fight surrounding how voters can get and drop off mail-in ballots, who can collect ballots and ID requirements for voter registration changes.

  • Noah Pransky, who reported the story for NBCLX, told Axios: "Because [DeSantis] refuses to talk about the episode, it’s still a mystery what happened, and why his ballot signature showed 'no similarities' to any other signature they had on file for him."
  • The Tampa Bay Times, in a great look at how DeSantis' signature changed over time, said he ultimately fixed the issue to get his vote to count.
  • DeSantis is advocating that elections officials use only a voter's most recent signature to determine authenticity — a change that could weaken Florida's ballot safeguards and would contradict a court mandate that ordered Florida officials to consider more than one signature from a voter.

Between the lines: Even some in DeSantis' own party are perplexed, given the state's recent successes with secure elections.

  • Pasco County’s supervisor of elections Brian Corley, a Republican, told LX he was confused as to why the changes were proposed: "Florida was held up as the model of (election) success.  State leaders took victory laps after the election."
  • "I’m not really sure the 'why' of these measures. ... Nobody can really address the legitimate reason why we’re doing this. ... There are so many safeguards in place."

The other side: Nikki Fried, the state's Democratic agriculture commissioner, said that DeSantis' signature episode showed "we have over-regulated the right to vote."

By the numbers: LX cites a St Pete Polls/Florida Politics survey that found only 42% of Floridians said DeSantis’ proposed dropbox restrictions and vote-by-mail barriers were a good idea.

  • Florida had one of the country’s highest rates of confidence in the 2020 election. Exit polls showed 86% of voters — including 86% of Trump voters — believed the state would count their ballots accurately.

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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