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Florida Senate President-Elect Bill Galvano Talks Election Process, Potential To Make Changes

Three men sit at a wooden desk and speak into microphones
Ryan Dailey

Florida’s Senate President-elect Bill Galvano hosted members of the Capitol Press Corps Friday, fielding questions about the election, upcoming session and beyond.

Galvano reflected on what he calls one of the most “vigorous” election cycles he’s ever experienced. After more than a week of constant news about recounts, allegations of election fraud and a host of problems counting votes – Galvano says the process needs another look.

“I think we’ve had too many problems through too many cycles. It’s something I’m interested in doing, taking a look at how we are working the process,” Galvano said. “And if there are modifications we can make to better serve the people during our election cycle.”

Seemingly no one was louder in raising election fraud questions than the state’s governor for the past eight years, Republican Rick Scott. Asked if Scott and President Donald Trump’s rhetoric concerning fraudulent activity tarnished voters’ confidence, Galvano had this to say:

“I’m not sure that there was a lot of confidence going in. We’ve sort of been painted with that brush since 2000 I think they definitely highlight that we have concerns, and then you see repeat problems in the South Florida counties. And I think by next election cycle, the voters are going to want to have more in terms of assurance that their votes are going to be properly counted.”

And, on the subject of extending certain deadlines in the process to ensure accuracy of the count, Galvano says no matter what comes of that, he would rather not have to see judges imposing changes.

“If we take a look at the whole process, you’d have to look at that aspect as well. We now have an extension because a federal court has extended the time,” Galvano said. “And I would rather have a system with efficacy that doesn’t require judicial intervention.”

The Senatorial race, which is undergoing a hand recount, isn’t yet decided. But with a Republican Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis looking to be a certainty, Galvano detailed his most recent meeting with DeSantis in Tallahassee.

“The governor-elect and I have had a few visits, in fact I spent some time with him yesterday, while we can still get under the wire and spend some time together. And I find him to be very eager to understand and be part of the legislative- or the state of Florida process- and to acclimate himself with the legislative process and how we work in the Senate,” Galvano said. “And we haven’t dug into specific agendas and done a match-up of who wants to do what, and where, and what the success of it is. But if the level of communication that we have presently is an indicator of his willingness to work with both the speaker-designate, myself and our members, I feel pretty good about it.”

DeSantis resigned from his post as a U.S. Congressman during the gubernatorial race. But Galvano sounded confident in DeSantis’ ability to learn the inner-workings of Florida’s House and Senate. 

“I do, I think there’s a big difference between what we do here in Tallahassee versus what they do in Washington, and for the most part that’s a good difference on our side of the equation,” Galvano said. “He’s very fortunate to have lieutenant governor-elect Jeanette Nunez, who’s been through this process and has relationships, but knows the nuts and bolts of it, mechanics, and just comes out of a leadership position in the House. I’m confident he will get his footing as we go, but there are some things that I think he will have to discover.”

The 2019 Legislative Session will begin March 5.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.