WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping elections reform bill into law Thursday morning.
The governor and other Republicans in the state say the new law will protect against fraud, even through there were no verified reports of voter irregularities in the November presidential election.
Those opposed point out the measure restricts voting by mail and ballot drop boxes.
Thursday morning's bill signing event was closed to local media and appeared exclusively on FOX News, according to WPTV, whose crews tried to attend the bill signing. It happened at the Hilton near the Palm Beach International Airport.
"Me signing this bill here says, 'Florida, your vote counts. Your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency,'" DeSantis said during his appearance on "Fox & Friends."
DeSantis is widely expected to announce soon that he is running for reelection.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who recently announced his own candidacy for the governor's mansion, called out DeSantis for barring media from the signing.
This is the difference between @GovRonDeSantis and me. He locks out the public and caters to FOX News. When I was Governor, everyone was invited in — Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. And when I'm Governor again, this will be a Florida for all. https://t.co/o7IuDJaYAN— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) May 6, 2021
The new legislation would allow ballot drop boxes as long as election officials follow new constraints — limits on who could drop off voters' ballots at drop boxes, a ban on moving drop boxes within 30 days of elections, restrictions on where drop boxes could be placed and a requirement that they would all have to be monitored by elections officials whenever they're open.
The bill would also require voters to request to vote by mail more regularly, prohibit election officials from using private money to help pay for election administration, restrict third-party voter registration organizations, add new powers for partisan election observers and give DeSantis the leeway to appoint replacements to fill certain local political positions vacated by people running for higher office.