Florida is set to pass an election bill that would roll back voters’ rights, but not all Republicans are happy. Self-styled “dirty trickster” Roger Stone calls the legislation the beginning of the “Californication of Florida,” claiming the bill will make it easier to commit voter fraud. Stone’s real concern may be that the legislation changes Florida law to allow DeSantis to keep his job as governor while running for president.
The bill under question was passed by the Republican-controlled legislature Friday. It would limit the role of third-party voter registration organizations and impose steep fines on such organizations, restrict mail-in ballots, and shift responsibility for determining if a voter is eligible to vote to the individual. Voting rights advocates say the bill is a political boost for DeSantis and an effort to deter Black and brown voters. The legislation now heads to the desk of DeSantis, who is expected to jump into the presidential race in the coming weeks.
The legislation restricts access to voting in line with other Republican voter suppression legislation that flies under the banner of “election integrity”—a strategy that picked up steam after Trump’s 2020 defeat. But it’s coming under fire from Trump loyalists who aren’t all that keen on making running for president easier for DeSantis. But instead of harping on that point, they insist the bill doesn’t go far enough to roll back voting rights.
In a post on Truth Social, Trump claims he “couldn’t care less if Ron DeSanctus runs.” The problem, he says, is the bill “totally weakens Election Integrity in Florida.”
“Instead of getting tough, and doing what the people want (same day voting, Voter ID, proof of Citizenship, paper ballots, hand count, etc.) this Bill guts everything,” Trump claimed. “It will allow dirty Voter rolls to get dirtier, weakens transparency, and is a total mess. It’s simple, all we want is a Free and Fair Election, and an honest count.”
Of course, any election Trump doesn’t win isn’t free or fair in his book. Making voting as difficult as possible—and asking election officials to find more votes for him—is Trump’s version of a free and fair election.
Stone—a Trump confidant whose prison sentence for obstructing Congress’ investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election was commuted by Trump—echoed Trump’s claims in a Substack newsletter Tuesday attacking Florida Republicans.
“The special session of the Florida Legislature is considering ‘reforms’ to the state election law which indisputably would mandate the use of voting machines and Arizona-style vote tabulators, prohibit the hand-counting of paper ballots, lose the signature verification rules for mail-in ballots, and substantially expand the forms of identification required to register to vote—making the voter registration of non-U.S. Citizens far easier,” Stone claimed.
“Even more offensive are amendments which limit challenges to any election result to election board officials, entirely eliminating citizen standing, input, and oversight,” he continued. “If they move forward, Republicans may have seen their last statewide victory and the Californication of Florida will truly begin.”
It should go without saying that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election or any recent nationwide election. Republican efforts to move to same-day voting, voter ID, and paper ballots is part of Trump’s game plan to make it more difficult for historically disenfranchised voters, who are less likely to vote for him, to cast a ballot.
Stone and Trump might want even more voting restrictions, but DeSantis has already instilled fear in the public, with his election police arresting people who thought they had their voting rights restored and this bill putting the onus for any voter registration mistakes on the individual. The real crime of Florida’s election bill for Trump loyalists is that it’s not for Trump—it’s for DeSantis.