TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s elections chief rolled out a top-10 list Wednesday for why the state – once ridiculed for voting snafus – has become a “gold standard.”
But while he touted such things as “paper ballots,” “vote-by-mail safeguards,” “expanded days of canvassing,” “election results reporting” and “recount procedures,” Secretary of State Cord Byrd said he anticipates more changes to election procedures will come during this year’s legislative session.
“We’re continually looking to improve that process,” Byrd said of voting by mail as he appeared before the House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee.
“We’ve done that over the last few legislative sessions,” Byrd added. “And I would anticipate that you all are probably going to look at some additional security measures with regard to vote-by-mail, to ensure that when someone does vote by mail that it is actually that voter, who’s registered to vote, is the person who’s voting.”
Republican lawmakers across the country have pushed for voting changes since former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election.
Florida lawmakers in 2021 took steps such as placing added restrictions on ballot drop boxes and requiring voters to request mail-in ballots more frequently.
During the 2022 session, they created a first-of-its-kind office in Florida to investigate voting irregularities, ratcheted up financial and criminal penalties for violating elections laws and required county supervisors of elections to scour voter rolls for potentially ineligible voters annually rather than every other year.
Critics argue the changes were designed to suppress voting by minorities and Democrats and potentially lay the groundwork for Republican challenges to future election results.
Byrd, a former House member, disputes such arguments.
“We’re improving our election integrity,” Byrd said.
Kids can now learn about Gov. Ron DeSantis.
As DeSantis targets what he considers liberal “indoctrination” in Florida’s public schools and universities, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s latest “Kids Guide” focuses on the potential 2024 presidential candidate.
“Help your kids learn about Ron DeSantis and why he may be our next Commander-in-Chief!” says a promo for “The Kids Guide to Ron DeSantis.”
Readers can learn about DeSantis as a student, an athlete, his time in the U.S. Navy, his family and his political victories. The promo also highlights a page titled “What Does the Future Hold?” that includes an image of the White House.
Prior editions of Kids Guides have been put out on former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. The line also offers books on “Entrepreneurship & Innovation,” “Free Markets,” “America’s Greatness,” “9/11 & The War on Terror,” “Fighting Socialism,” “Media Bias & Fake News,” “Free Speech & Cancel Culture,” “Race in America,” “Immigration,” and “COVID-19 and Vaccination.”
Arkansas spent $260,000 for the COVID-19 edition, which advised students that “face masks aren’t recommended as a way of preventing coronavirus for healthy people,” according to the Arkansas Times.
Different kind of flu bug
A deadly avian flu outbreak hits close to home for Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, whose business interests include a massive egg farm in Trilby.
Addressing reporters after a state Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Simpson pointed to the outbreak, which has killed more than 50 million birds this year, for the rapid rise in egg prices and the need to approach agriculture as a national security issue.
“I’ve said it many times. We all understand our energy policy here; if oil goes to $125 a barrel, gas goes to $5 a gallon. What happens if you don’t have food in the grocery store for seven days?” Simpson said.
To protect the egg industry, Simpson cautioned people with backyard chickens to quickly report signs of illness in the birds.
“The way that you prevent spread is by eliminating the spread,” Simpson said.
The outbreak is part of the reason for rising prices and lower availability of eggs, joining inflation, supply-chain issues and the end-of-the-year holiday demand.
“Consumer demand for shell eggs continues to slowly retreat from its holiday levels but remains relatively high compared to the post-holiday period in recent years,” according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture Egg Market Overview, released Friday. “Prices for shell eggs at retail have begun to ease but remain at historically-high levels – sufficiently high to raise concern but not enough to dampen consumer taste for eggs.”
TWEET OF THE WEEK: “Congressman Steube was involved in an accident on his property late this afternoon and has sustained several injuries. We will provide additional updates when possible. Please pray for the Congressman and his family.” – from the Twitter account Wednesday of Florida Congressman Greg Steube (@RepGregSteube).