Consensual government is a small spec in the large mass of human history. Popular sovereignty in a constitutional republic is contingent upon a set of preconditions. Among the prerequisites are freedoms of expression, assembly, press (and social media), systemic checks and balances, fair, free, and periodic elections, and a vibrant civil society. The legitimacy of the democratic model rests on the citizenry believing in the system. Florida’s new comprehensive election integrity law is a gold standard for America.
The premier problem for self-government is when the election system is corrupted with schemes that put into question the authenticity of the popular will. In other words, when cheating occurs in the vote-counting or electoral policies that favor one side over the other, the system’s validity is doubted. The 2020 election was plagued with irregularities, that included questionable mail vote procedures, a constitutional dislocation of electoral law tampering, as well as a coordinated, multifaceted effort by private entities such as Big Tech, mainstream media, and high-profile personalities. All acted with the expressed intent to defeat the Republican candidate.
Numerous polls have concluded that close to half of America believes the 2020 election was rigged. One of these surveys, the Politico/Morning Consult poll, for example, determined that after the election, 70 percent of Republicans did not find it to be either free or fair. The success of the democratic model of governance cannot long endure without sustaining ample support of the people. When such a high proportion of the voting population disbelieves the authenticity of the election process, the system’s legitimacy is imperiled. This is why systemic safeguards to assure the probity of the election model are fundamental.
On Monday, April 25, Gov. DeSantis signed in to Florida law, SB 524. This administration legislation addresses most of the potential areas for voting dishonesty. Critics, mainly composed of those who applauded or were proactive in implementing the discredited 2020 electoral shenanigans, are labeling SB 524 as a “police force” or an “anti-voter” measure. Florida’s comprehensive election integrity does not curtail voting rights. Far from it. What it does do is make it difficult to commit electoral fraud. Additionally, it would curtail “legal” activities that undermine federal election laws.
Dirty voter rolls are a major problem. As people die, move out of a voting jurisdiction, or become ineligible to vote for any other reason, often their names remain on voting rosters for years. This lends itself to potential abuse and fraud. The solicitation of mail-in ballots must contain the assurances that the person requesting the ballots is who he says he is. Identity verification is paramount to keep the system as clean as possible. Ballot harvesting abuse is as old as corruption. This activity breeds fraudulent pursuits and must be tackled. Unsecured ballot “drop boxes” are an invitation to vote manipulation and privacy infringements. Finally, the use of private funds in public elections that end up benefiting some candidates or a particular party over the other, violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution and evades federal election campaign finance limitations.
Florida’s election administration law addresses all the mentioned areas of potential election cheating and system vulnerabilities. SB 524 arms the Department of State (DOS) with the resources to focus on prioritizing election purity as an official Florida state policy. An Office of Election Crimes and Security would work under the auspices of the DOS. It will be empowered to receive information concerning voter fraud claims and investigate substantiated cases with law enforcement, as well as enforce the law’s comprehensive integrity measures.
Included in the Sunshine State’s election protection procedures is the requirement that election supervisors purge ineligible voters from voting rolls on a yearly basis. The DOS would be instructed to strengthen ID requisites for mail-in ballot solicitations, in addition to signature verification for all voters. Criminal penalties would be increased for ballot harvesting, an abusive practice that exploits vulnerable citizens. SB 524 also would prohibit election supervisors from accepting “Zuckerbucks,” or other forms of dark money, which contaminate public elections.
A republic is contingent upon a free people expressing their will at the ballot box. Whether this is done by voting in person on election day or earlier in anticipated voting, by mail or other absentee methods, the governed have a right to a trustworthy election system. This is not a partisan issue. Fair and free elections are inherently fundamental to a democracy’s viability. Voting integrity and transparency laws fight to keep a republic from dying. Florida is, again, setting the standard.