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Florida Republicans Open CPAC By Throwing Support Behind Recently Proposed Elections, Free Speech Legislation

Photo: CPAC
Photo: CPAC

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference today, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Sunshine State leads the country in ensuring the integrity of its elections.

Gov. DeSantis praised poll workers in Florida for tabulating some eleven million votes by midnight on Election Night this year. 

DeSantis attributed the smooth elections to his refusal to change the state’s policy of only mailing vote-by-mail ballots to residents who request them. 

And he alluded to legislation he proposed last week that would further restrict vote-by-mail in the state in future elections. 

“But we’re not resting on our laurels. This year Florida’s leading on banning all forms of ballot harvesting. And banning third party political groups like those funded by billionaire Mark Zuckerberg from interfering in the administration of our elections."

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DeSantis’ legislation would only allow the voter or a family to drop off a ballot, and it would prevent counties from receiving some grants for “get out the vote” initiatives. 

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi also spoke at the conference. She said she supports proposed legislation that would protect First Amendment rights on college campuses.  

Bondi says as a conservative she supported Richard Spencer’s visit to the University of Florida campus although she does not agree with his views. 

“And I went out and encouraged all students not to attend. Don’t go. Don’t go because there could have been trouble. But as conservatives we did not cancel it. Nor could we because we believe in the First Amendment.”

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State Senate Bill 264 and its companion bill House Bill 233 would prohibit the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors from banning certain speakers on campus. 

It would also require colleges to survey students about censorship and viewpoint diversity on campus. 

The Florida Republicans' comments came days before former president Donald Trump is expected to make his first public comments since President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.