Florida Legislature OKs elections overhaul, social media crackdown

TALLAHASSEE – Florida lawmakers labored into the night Thursday to approve a pair of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ prime priorities: New limits on mail ballots and drop containers along with current sanctions on social media platforms.

Every measures grew out of ultimate November’s presidential elections. Democrats outperformed Republicans in voting-by-mail, and former President Trump was banned from social media web sites over the deadly rebel on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The elections overhaul drew fierce debate Thursday inside the Senate, which accredited the measure 23-17, with Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg the lone Republican opposed. The Residence adopted go properly with, 77-40, largely alongside celebration strains.

The legal guidelines (SB 90) would require voters wanting a mail ballot after subsequent yr’s elections to make the request sooner than every primary election.

As quickly as signed by DeSantis, it moreover restricts drop containers to early voting web sites all through their hours of operation or to an elections supervisor’s office – they often have to be supervised by an elections staffer.

Moreover, elections supervisors might presumably be subject to $25,000 fines for leaving a drop discipline unattended.

“I really feel that’s a slap inside the face … in direction of our supervisors of elections,” talked about Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami. “It’s senseless that that’s nonetheless on this bill.”

Earlier safety:After file 4.eight million Floridians vote by mail, Republicans look to overhaul system

Governor at battle with social media:Gov. DeSantis says ‘giant tech’ seems to be like like ‘giant brother’

Elections measure a lot much less restrictive than Georgia’s

The elections changes are a lot much less restrictive than what Florida Republicans earlier proposed – and far decrease than what some GOP-controlled legislatures have superior in numerous states, notably Georgia, the place they’ve prompted enterprise boycotts.

Nevertheless they proceed to be politically charged.

Florida carried out a largely flawless election ultimate November, prompting Democrats to question the motives behind the overhaul. Moreover they challenged new restrictions limiting who can drop off ballots for others and barring nongovernmental organizations from serving to to finance elections.

“This bill is simply not wished,” talked about Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville. “It’s nonetheless a suppression bill, and we’ll do increased as a state.”

Nevertheless Republicans argue “guardrails” are wished. Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, talked about the revisions will enhance ballot security.

“We did have a super election,” Hutson talked about. “So why must we be completely happy there?”

A file 11.1 million voters strong ballots in Florida ultimate November – with 43%, or 4.eight million Floridians, voting by mail. Of those, about 1.5 million used drop containers.

About 45% of Democrats voted by mail in November, in distinction with 31% of Republicans in Florida. The imbalance stemmed from Trump discouraging voting-by-mail, insisting with out proof that the observe was rife with fraud.

Social media bill aimed towards ‘de-platforming’

The social media bill drew a lot much less debate – however moreover was ripped from the headlines of the ultimate presidential election.

That legal guidelines (SB 7072) imposes hefty fines on Twitter, Fb and completely different web sites that censor people – very like what occurred to Trump and loads of completely different conservative clients posting uncertain content material materials about election fraud, COVID-19 and completely different factors.

It was accredited 23-17 inside the Senate and 77-37 inside the Residence.

It orders social media corporations to publish necessities with detailed definitions of when anyone could possibly be censored or blocked and makes corporations subject to as so much as $250,000 day-to-day fines for de-platforming a Florida candidate.

The bill moreover requires a web page to tell clients inside seven days that they might presumably be censored, giving them time to applicable the posting.

State and federal courts have sometimes taken a hands-off view involving regulating on-line platforms. Congress moreover has not weighed into the controversy, although the movement involving Trump has revived discussions.

Florida’s switch raises a bunch of constitutional factors, with opponents saying it violates every interstate commerce and free speech protections.

DeSantis often known as for Florida to now regulate the web sites by condemning the “oligarchs in Silicon Valley” for deplatforming Trump and completely different conservatives.

With out citing proof, DeSantis talked about the privately owned on-line giants are using their measurement, selling vitality and world attain to have an effect on thought and play favorites – being tougher on people who comment from the political correct than left.

DeSantis revived his criticism recently after a roundtable he held in March was taken down from YouTube on account of the governor and scientists he invited had been accused of airing COVID-19 misinformation.

John Kennedy is a reporter inside the USA TODAY Group’s Florida Capital Bureau. He could possibly be reached at [email protected], or on Twitter at @JKennedyReport.

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