The Florida State Legislature passed a new electoral bill on Friday, April 28th. While the bill makes several changes to Florida’s electoral laws, one of the more significant aspects of the bill is that it will now allow officeholders in the state to run for President or Vice-President of the United States without having to resign. The bill was passed in the legislature along party lines, with a vote for it going 76-34 in the Republicans’ favor. Media outlets have suggested the bill was passed with the intention of allowing Governor Ron DeSantis to run as the Republican candidate for the presidency in the upcoming 2024 elections. While Governor DeSantis has repeatedly denied presidential ambitions, there is speculation he might announce his intention to run in a few weeks.
Supporters of the bill claim that it was not introduced to specifically assist Governor DeSantis, claiming the bill was applicable to any office bearer in Florida. Previously, if an office bearer wanted to run for another office, such as the presidency, they would have to resign from their active position.
“It is an individual office that is unique. It is the chief executive of our country,” GOP Rep. Ralph Massullo said during the House debate Friday. “This isn’t just for our governor, it’s for anyone in politics.”
Democrats have criticized the bill, calling it an effort to see Governor DeSantis remain in office and assume his responsibilities while running a presidential campaign at the same time.
“We, in this body, are doing the governor’s bidding,” said Rep. Angela Nixon, a Democrat. “He needs to resign to run if he wants to run for president, period. Last time I checked, being governor is a full-time job. Running for president takes a lot of work.”
The bill will become applicable law once Governor DeSantis signs it. This new bill will also include restrictions to drop boxes and mail-in ballots and will see changes in campaign finance deadlines. Under the new bill, the removal of deceased or ineligible voters from the voter’s roll will be processed quicker.
Democrats claimed that the changes to electoral laws were specifically designed to discourage or make it difficult for minorities to vote. “This bill would move Florida backwards,” said state Rep. Fentrice Driskell, who is the House minority leader.
The state Legislature also made a proposal that any constitutional amendments would require a 66.67% vote, which is up from the required 60%. Such a proposal would have to be approved in the Florida Senate and then voted on by citizens of the state on a ballot in 2024. Republican Representative Rick Roth claimed the change was necessary as it would protect the law from unnecessary changes while Democratic Representative Bruce Antone claimed the 60% threshold was high enough.