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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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Go deeper

Florida to close Piney Point wastewater reservoir after averting disaster

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at a press conference in Miami on April 8. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Tuesday he directed the state's Department of Environmental Protection to develop a plan to permanently close the wastewater reservoir at Piney Point phosphate plant that recently threatened to cause a catastrophic environmental disaster, according to AP.

Why it matters: The governor said that $15.4 million in agency funds will be used to treat the water, which contains waste from the phosphate production that can cause algae blooms and fish kills and eventually impact the food chain if introduced into the environment in large amounts.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, killing at least three people and wounding many others on Saturday afternoon, per a Liberty County Sheriff's Office statement to media outlets.

The big picture: Some 147 passengers and 13 crew were aboard the Empire Builder train, which runs from Seattle to Chicago, when five cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods said in an emailed statement. The National Transportation Safety Board said it's investigating the derailment.

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.