Doral, Florida - Defend Florida is a grassroots conservative organization founded at the start of 2021 in response to the electoral irregularities of the presidential election of 2020. This spring they became the leader of conservative groups fighting for election integrity in the state legislative process.
This process was hijacked by three groups with shared skepticism about concerns for election integrity, and little regard for the views of ordinary citizens and voters: (1) The Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections, Inc. is the trade association of all the Supervisors of Elections in Florida’s 67 counties. See “Supervisors of Elections” in: https://miamiindependent.com/chase-the-vote-at-election-integrity-brigade/. They are a public-sector cartel. (2) Republican State Senate and House leadership, especially Senator Travis Hutson (R-7th District, St. Augustine). See: https://miamiindependent.com/tammany-hall-in-tallahassee/. (3) Secretary of State Cord Byrd, appointed by Governor DeSantis to replace Laurel Lee, who successfully ran for Congress.
Against this lineup of establishmentarians, who were at best skeptical about concerns for election integrity, Defend Florida distinguished itself for the most vigorous opposition to the legislation that was eventually passed in the form of S.B.7050. This legislation represented one step forward and two steps backward for grassroots conservatives pressing for election integrity.
For example, the legislation was made public on Tuesday afternoon of Easter week, when many were busy with visiting family. This first public draft contained a provision making it a third-degree felony for poll watchers to harass poll workers and campaign volunteers. Of course, poll watchers should act peacefully and respectfully, and there is no evidence that they have ever acted in any other way. Nevertheless, progressive groups have fabricated a fake narrative that conservative poll workers are harassing, threatening and committing violence against poll workers. This narrative is false, but that is how progressives work. In practice, poll workers had become accustomed to running elections without oversight from citizens and voters, so they take umbrage at all the conservative poll watchers who have realized that they must get involved since they saw the irregularities starting in the elections of 2020. This provision came out in the second draft, but it should not have even been there in the first draft.
By one fair assessment, conservative groups estimated that this legislation represents 20% of our wish-list, which is frustrating in a state where Republicans have a super-majority of 67% in both houses of the legislature, and where the Republican governor won 59% of the popular vote. The Florida legislature has a Republican super-majority, but a conservative minority and RINO leadership.
Accordingly, Defend Florida, led by Raj Doraiswamy of Sarasota and Debbie Farris of Palm Beach, together with Citizens Defending Freedom and other grassroots conservative groups, are preparing for the next round in the legislative session that starts in January, with committee work starting in September or October. In order to lay the foundation for a more successful session, volunteers are pairing up to visit each state legislator and express their concerns for election integrity. These concerns may be summarized as: (1) Transparency, (2) Eligibility, and (3) Control.
Floridians deserve transparent elections, but our current election process is opaque, and transparency is essential to voter confidence. Voting machines connect to the internet, creating risks to trust and transparency. Any code used to run voting machines should be available for public inspection, not protected as the proprietary program of any vendor.
Florida’s Constitution requires U.S. citizenship as a legal voting requirement, but this requirement is not enforced when voters register. Florida drivers licenses, state ID cards and Social Security Numbers are not proof of citizenship, nor is Real ID (with a star). The Standard Florida Voter Registration Application also do not verify citizenship, and relies on the honors system.
Federal law requires accurate voter rolls, but at the end of last year, Florida had over 521,000 voters on its rolls with invalid addresses. This makes Vote-By-Mail all the more unreliable. Supervisors of Elections must remove non-citizens and deceased persons from voter rolls, using all available data sources.
Floridians deserve voting security, but there is no chain-of-custody, voter ID or signature matching for Vote-By-Mail. Vote-By-Mail should be limited to only qualified voters, who have some reason for not voting in person, and applications should be notarized. Signature verification varies widely and should be standardized. Limited Vote-By-Mail is under control.
The Carter-Baker commission, formed to review electoral procedures after the election of 2000 with hanging chads, concluded in 2005 that Vote-By-Mail is rife with fraud. See: https://miamiindependent.com/mailin-it-in-vote-by-mail-is-rife-with-fraud/. Absentee ballots require a valid excuse, such as such as military service, unavoidable travel or physical disability. Vote-By-Mail turns the United States Postal Service into the largest precinct in the country.
Grassroots conservative groups will be better prepared for the next legislative session to tackle the need for greater election integrity in Florida. We are not as bad as most states, but why not the best?