Fact Check: Here’s What Florida’s New Elections Law Actually Does

Fact Check: Here’s What Florida’s New Elections Law Actually Does

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Washington (CNN)On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an elections bill that makes it more difficult to vote.

The Florida law is part of a cross-country Republican effort — in the wake of President Donald Trump’s lies about the integrity of the 2020 election — to impose new restrictions on voter access.

DeSantis said Thursday that the new law will make Florida elections more secure. But Florida elections were already highly secure: DeSantis boasted in November about how well the 2020 general election had gone, saying Florida was now being seen as “the state that did it right and that other states should emulate,” while Republican Secretary of State Laurel Lee, a DeSantis appointee, said in December that her department had “successfully administered three safe, secure and orderly elections” in 2020.

    County elections supervisors from both parties have criticized various provisions of the new law. Voting rights activists, some of whom have already filed lawsuits, say the new law is an undemocratic effort to suppress the votes of racial minorities and others.

      We can’t list every provision of a 48-page bill. But since elections laws tend to be the subject of furious political spin, here is a simple look at 10 of the law’s most significant provisions.

        Limits on drop boxes

        The law reduces the number of hours that ballot drop boxes can be made available to voters.

          The law says drop boxes can only be used during early voting hours, other than boxes located at an office of a local elections supervisor. This means that, except at supervisors’ offices, drop boxes are allowed for a maximum of 12 hours per day. Previous Florida law did not limit the hours drop box could be open, though the DeSantis administration sent out controversial instructions in October 2020 that tried to insist on hours limits.

          The new requirement to match drop box hours to early voting hours, except for boxes at supervisors’ offices, also means reductions in the number of days the boxes can be open. For example, boxes not at supervisors’ offices can no longer be open on Election Day or the day before, since Florida ends its early voting period two days before Election Day.

          The law also requires that each drop box be monitored in person by an employee of the supervisor’s office; previous law only said they had to be “secure.” (Drop boxes are very secure without in-person monitoring; many counties around the country use video surveillance.) And the law creates a vague requirement about where counties need to put their drop boxes, saying boxes “must be geographically located so as to provide all voters in the county with an equal opportunity to cast a ballot, insofar as is practicable.” One Republican elections supervisor, Alan Hays of Lake County, told CNN that he has “no idea” what that wording means.

          The law says that if “any” drop box is left accessible to voters in a manner that violates the new rules, the supervisor is subject to a civil penalty of up to $25,000.

          Double the work required to apply for mail-in ballots

          The law requires Florida voters to do extra labor to obtain mail-in ballots.

          Under the previous law, a voter had to file just one application to get a mail-in ballot for every election during two election cycles. In other words, under the previous law, a Florida resident could have filed an application in 2021 to get a mail-in ballot for both the 2022 congressional midterms and the 2024 presidential election.

          Now, a voter’s application gets them a mail-in ballot for a single election cycle. So an application filed in 2021 would obtain a 2022 ballot but not a 2024 ballot as well.

          The new law does include a grandfather clause. Voters who filed applications before the 2020 election will still get mail-in ballots for the 2022 election as previously planned.

          New voter ID requirements

          The law requires voters to provide a form of identification — their driver’s license number, Florida identification card number, or last four digits of their Social Security number — to obtain a mail-in ballot. (Florida already had identification requirements for in-person voting.)

          Under the old law, a voter could file a change of address by calling an elections supervisor and providing their date of birth. Now, the voter making that call has to provide both their date of birth and one of the above kinds of identification.

          A limit on ballot collection

          The law makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to p

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