Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signed a bill altering the state’s resign-to-run law on the same day he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and announced his long-awaited 2024 presidential campaign.
The change was intended to reduce ambiguity and eliminate potential legal obstacles should DeSantis win the Republican nomination and face President Biden at the polls in 2020.
The elections package included language clarifying that candidates for president or vice president are exempt from the requirement to submit their resignation in writing at least 10 days prior to qualifying for the office he or she intends to seek if the two terms would overlap.
In November 2022, DeSantis was re-elected to a second four-year term lasting until January 2027. If he is elected president of the United States, he will have to abdicate from his current position, and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuez will succeed him as governor.
SB 7050, signed by DeSantis on Wednesday, applies to several other areas of Florida election law, including prohibiting felons or non-citizens employed by voter registration groups from handling applications and making it punishable by a $50,000 fine.
Republicans who control the state legislature contend that the package bolsters the state’s election system against the possibility of voter fraud. The Democrats have argued that the bill could make it harder for minorities to vote and constitutes “voter suppression.” Politico reported that two federal lawsuits challenging the law were filed on Wednesday, one by the League of Women Voters of Florida and the other by a coalition that includes the Florida NAACP.
“There is nothing more sacred than our vote, and in this state, when it comes to our elections, we want to be crystal clear: It should be easy to vote and hard to cheat,” state GOP Rep. John Snyder said in April before the Republican-controlled House passed the bill 76-34 along party lines, WTSP reported.
There was some contention, including from Republican state Sen. Danny Burgess, one of the bill’s sponsors, that the change to the resign-to-run law was unnecessary because, for years, the legislation was not deemed to apply to Florida elected officials seeking federal office.
In 2008, when Charlie Crist was briefly considered as a running mate for Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Florida had already made an exception for him.
Despite the fact that former Republican governor Rick Scott signed a bill in 2018 reinstating the resign-to-run law’s requirements for those seeking federal office, this bill allowed Scott to complete the remainder of his term as governor while competing for the U.S. Senate. In 2019, Scott was inaugurated into the United States Senate.