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Florida enacts new election laws ahead of 2022 midterms

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC22) in Orlando, Florida on Thursday, February 24, 2022. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/b07f0505fe81bb87300a7f707395b686/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC22) in Orlando, Florida on Thursday, February 24, 2022. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

April 27 (UPI) -- Ahead of the midterm elections, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a flurry of new election bills into law in recent days that will change the ballot, the state's congressional map and establish an elections police force.

DeSantis, a Republican who is weighing a 2024 presidential bid, signed a bill Monday to create an election police force. Critics blasted the new law as politically motivated, following former President Donald Trump's unfounded claims of election fraud, and arguing local prosecutors can handle election crimes.

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At the bill's signing ceremony, DeSantis suggested law enforcement needs more resources to restore voter confidence.

"I don't think there's any other place in the country where you should have more confidence that your vote counts than in the state of Florida," he said.

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The governor, who is up for re-election this year, also signed a bill Monday that bans ranked-choice voting for all elections in Florida. That means cities and counties are not allowed to pass their own laws allowing voters to rank candidates by preference.

Proponents say ranking candidates, instead of voting for just one, eliminates the need for runoff elections. Ranked-choice voting is used in Maine, Alaska and in 50 cities, including San Francisco and New York.

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Last week, DeSantis signed into law a bill that will redraw congressional boundaries for two districts and could cause two Black members of Congress to lose their seats.

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The new map impacts Florida's 5th Congressional District and would divide Jacksonville, a city with the state's largest Black population, into two Republican-leaning districts.

On Thursday, several Democrats tried to stop the passage of the new boundaries with a protest on the state House floor.

"I am occupying the Florida House chamber floors to ensure that Black people will not be forgotten about. We are here to stay," said state Rep. Angie Nixon.

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The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature submitted maps that would've created less of a GOP advantage, but DeSantis vetoed them last month.

Voting rights groups, including Black Votes Matter and the League of Women Voters of Florida, have filed lawsuits against the redistricting plan.

DeSantis said his administration is complying with Florida's law that bans gerrymandering.

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