When Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) cast his ballot as a congressman in Florida’s 2016 primary election, his signature was flagged by election workers as a mismatch, according to local news station NBCLX.
When DeSantis provided the canvassing board a new signature as a backup to the signatures already on file, they determined that handwriting also had “no similarities” to the signature on DeSantis’ ballot and rejected the vote, according to Flagler County elections officials.
DeSantis, now Florida’s outspoken governor, declined several NBCLX requests for an interview and did not provide an explanation for why the signature on his ballot did not match his other signatures on file with local elections offices.
Florida is now among the numerous states where Republicans are proposing new voter restrictions in the wake of the 2020 election, which in Florida DeSantis touted as “the most transparent and efficient election anywhere in the country.”
DeSantis’ public voting history – obtained through public records requests from the St. Johns and Flagler supervisors of elections – shows he regularly took advantage of Florida’s no-excuse absentee option, casting votes by mail in six out of seven elections between March 2016 and August 2020. The only time he voted in-person during that period was at a well-choreographed photo opportunity, when he appeared atop the ballot during his 2018 gubernatorial run.
Now, DeSantis is leading the charge in Florida to change how voters obtain a mail ballot, as well as how easily they can drop it off at their local elections offices. Watchdogs have called the reforms unnecessary and discriminatory, targeting poor and minority voters, while Florida election officials – including many prominent Republicans – have criticized the proposals for the confusion and problems they could create.
Among other provisions, DeSantis is “advocating a change to voter signature-matching that would order elections officials to use only a voter’s most-recent signature to determine authenticity,” according to the report.
That appears to contradict a court mandate, which ordered Florida officials to consider more than just one signature from a voter, when available, before casting a verdict on authenticity.
That proposal could also weaken the state’s existing ballot safeguards, according to multiple handwriting experts consulted by NBCLX last fall. They described the signature-matching process by poorly-trained election workers as less-than-ideal, particularly when election workers can not consult multiple examples of a voter’s signature.