The Fact Checker dug into statements from three of the Republican governors who have signed voting restrictions into law this year: Ron DeSantis of Florida, Brian Kemp of Georgia and Doug Ducey of Arizona.
As the video above shows, all three governors obfuscated to varying degrees, either by mischaracterizing the contents of the new law they signed, or by repeating one of Trump’s faulty arguments for needing the law.
“We’re making sure we’re enforcing voter ID. ... We’re also prohibiting mass-mailing of ballots. … In Florida, we track the votes coming in in real time — not the results — but we know who’s voting, what your registration is. And we follow the turnout, so that when the election’s over, we know the universe of votes that have been cast, and it makes [it] so that someone can’t dump 100,000 votes two or three days later.”
— Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), in remarks about Senate Bill 90 on Fox News, May 6, 2021
A law signed by DeSantis on May 6 requires Floridians to renew their mail voting application every two years, limits access to ballot drop boxes and limits the practice of third-party groups collecting ballots for others, among other provisions.
DeSantis claimed without evidence that thousands of votes had been “dumped” two or three days after an election (echoing a false claim Trump often makes about the 2020 race) but that the new Florida law would solve this fictitious problem.
Representatives for DeSantis did not say what election he was referring to, or what he meant to reference when he mentioned a 100,000-vote dump.
Perhaps he was echoing Trump, who claimed that 100,000 votes were mysteriously “dumped” in an Atlanta precinct during the November election, tilting that race in favor of Joe Biden. “This act coincided with a mysterious vote dump of up to 100,000 votes for Joe Biden, almost none for Trump,” Trump said at a rally outside the White House on Jan. 6, shortly before a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol.
Perhaps DeSantis was echoing Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who previously earned Four Pinocchios for claiming without evidence that Florida election officials “completely violated the law” in his 2018 race. “They found 95,000 votes after election night,” Scott claimed.
In any case, no evidence of a 100,000-vote dump has surfaced anywhere.
On Fox News, DeSantis said the new law strengthens voter ID requirements and prohibits mass mailing of ballots. But he seems to be overselling its merits. Although the new law adds some legal heft, the state already required voter ID and already banned mass mailing of ballots.
“People are saying we are taking something away with drop boxes. There’s counties that did not have a drop box last election. … Now every county will be required to have one drop box.”
— Gov. Brian Kemp (R-Ga.), speaking about Senate Bill 202 at a news conference, April 3, 2021
Kemp certified Biden’s unexpected win in Georgia. Then, he and the GOP-controlled state legislature rewrote much of the state’s voting rules covering absentee ballots and drop boxes.
The new rules ban proactively sending mail ballot applications to voters, require voters to submit identification with their application to be approved, and shorten the time frame for the application process to take place.
Like several other states, Georgia added new restrictions on the use of mail ballot drop boxes. Kemp indicated it was really an expansion, but his comments are misleading.
The law he signed does require that each county in the state have at least one drop box available to voters, which may increase voting options in some smaller counties.
What Kemp failed to mention is that the same law caps the number of drop boxes per county, based on the number of registered voters or early voting sites. (The law says, on Page 47, that county officials “shall establish at least one drop box” and “may only establish additional drop boxes totaling the lesser of either one drop box for every 100,000 active registered voters in the county or the number of advance voting locations in the county. Any additional drop boxes shall be evenly geographically distributed by population in the county.”)
In larger counties, namely the predominantly Black metro area in Atlanta, this new restriction effectively curtails the number of drop boxes. An analysis by the New York Times found it would limit Atlanta’s four main counties to 23 or fewer drop boxes, down from 94 in the 2020 election.
The Georgia law also requires that drop boxes be located inside and be available only during early voting hours, which limits their practicality.
“I would point out that prior to the 2020 election drop boxes were not allowed under state law and were only made available to counties by temporary emergency rule by the State Elections Board due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cody Hall, a spokesman for Kemp. “That emergency rule would have expired this summer once the governor’s public health state of emergency for COVID-19 expires. … The change in state law via SB 202 to codify drop boxes in every county for the first time is clearly an expansion of voting access.”
When we asked whether Kemp had concerns about election fraud in Georgia (remember: he certified Biden’s victory), Hall said: “The governor has been very clear in his public comments since the 2020 election. There were significant issues at the state and local level, which the governor raised concerns over at the time. However, the secretary of state and local elections officials are the entities tasked with running and overseeing elections — and investigating allegations of fraud — in the state of Georgia, per state laws and our constitution.” (Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has forcefully rejected Trump’s claims of election fraud.)
“Despite all the deceptive and heated rhetoric being used by some partisan activists to lobby against this reform, not a single Arizona voter will lose their right to vote as a result of this new law.”
— Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.), speaking about Senate Bill 1485 in a video message, May 11, 2021
A law signed by Ducey on May 11 will purge some Arizonans from the state’s early voter list, which determines who receives mail ballots each election cycle.
Ducey’s comments, batting down concerns that Arizona citizens would lose their right to vote, represent a straw-man argument. The substance of the complaint from Democrats and some voting-rights experts is that the new rules will reduce access to the ballot, especially in tribal areas, to solve a nonexistent problem.
Ducey certified Biden’s unexpected victory in Arizona and vouched for the state’s election integrity in 2020, but he described the new rules as sound policy.
“Others have suggested that ‘now is not the time’ for election reform,” Ducey wrote in a letter explaining his decision. “I could not disagree more. The politics of the moment should not impede good policy, and SB1485 is a measure that ensures our voting lists remain verifiable and accurate, will free up resources for local election officials, and strengthen trust among citizens in our election system.” (Ducey’s representatives did not respond to our questions.)
The new rules mean voters who do not cast a ballot at least once every two years will have to respond to a government notice to avoid being removed from the list and to continue getting a ballot in the mail. Some experts say this automatic removal could deter some people from voting. Those removed from the list would remain registered voters, but they would no longer receive ballots automatically by mail and would have to request them ahead of time or vote in person.
“Removing voters from the permanent early voting list makes it more likely that those people will not participate in elections,” according to an analysis of the Arizona proposal from the Brennan Center for Justice. “Increasing opportunities for mail-in voting brings marginal voters into elections and retains voters who might otherwise choose not to participate.”
An estimated 125,000 to 150,000 voters could be removed from the Arizona early voting list under the new law, according to the Brennan Center.
“If it had been enacted in 2019, approximately 126,000 Arizonans who voted in 2020 would have been removed,” the Brennan Center says, adding that it’s a bigger number than Biden’s margin of victory in the state in 2020.
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