Q&A– Are Governor DeSantis’s Election Reform Proposals a good idea?


Today’s entry: You’ve done a lot of work on voting systems and election integrity. What do you think about Gov. DeSantis’s proposals?

Bottom Line: We’ve talked a lot about how Florida went from the laughing stock of elections to, as Governor DeSantis puts it, “the gold standard”. Fact is that Florida’s improvement was mostly a case of removing the incompetent and potentially corrupt election supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach County. There’s still a lot of room for improvement in our election system as is evidenced by Harvard’s Election Integrity Project.

According to the Election Integrity Project, Florida’s overall rating is a 75 out of 100. Clearly there’s room for improvement. And frankly Florida only showed so well because of how poor the US ranks in integrity generally. As a reminder, Harvard’s project found the US has the second worst election integrity of any country holding democratic elections. With that being the case, it’s good to see Governor DeSantis views this as a priority.

So, what about his proposals? There's a lot to it. He broke out ten proposed reforms into three categories. Ballot integrity, transparency and reporting. How do those line up with the recommendations by the Harvard Election Integrity Project?

The project has largely endorsed the election security reforms called for in the 2019 “For the People Act”. The Act failed to pass due to several controversial “voting rights” proposals such as mandatory same day voter registration for federal elections, mandatory early voting for 15 days and automatic voter registration. Otherwise though, on election security specifically, it had several reforms which would have been especially helpful this past cycle.

Those include mandatory paper backup for ballots, mandatory preservation of ballots for auditing, recounts and public review, and mandates that all voting machines are made within the United States

When you think about this past cycle, those almost seem prophetic. Clearly there’s a need to federal reforms, but what about what Governor DeSantis proposed? Do they meet the reforms identified as being needed by the Election Integrity Project? Yes.

Governor DeSantis’s proposal doesn’t mandate voting systems be US manufactured. Now, since Palm Beach County replaced the last Sequoia voting system in the state in 2018, there aren’t any foreign manufactured voting systems currently being used in our state,however, including that mandate could prove helpful in the future and his reforms would otherwise boost integrity beyond the proposed 2019 Act.

Kudos to the governor for realizing that our performance was only relatively impressive and that there’s still work to do to improve election systems and integrity in Florida.

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