Rep. Berny Jacques advocates for bill allowing hand counting ballots, no foreign machines

SEMINOLE, Fla. – Rep. Berny Jacques, R-Seminole, advocated for his new piece of legislation enabling municipalities to count election ballots by hand rather than with machines.

“Currently, it’s mandated that machines have to be used when tabulating votes,” Jacques said on LiveNOW from Fox. “[The bill would] simply give local supervisors of elections [the] option to hand count [if they], based on their models and their perspective, see it as a more accurate way to tabulate votes.”

The bill, HB 359, entitled “Voting Systems,” allows counties to count ballots “by hand” and works to ensure more transparency in the kind of software used for elections.

“It’s a proactive measure to make sure that election integrity is upheld,” he said. “And I hear from a lot of my constituents, and I speak about this issue. The people are with me on this.”

The lawmaker said the bill is not a “mandate,” but gives “flexibility.”

Jacques and Rep. Taylor Yarkosky, R-Montverde, sponsored the bill.

Another major aspect of the bill is to ban foreign-made election machines and software.

“Why would we leave the supply chain at the hands of foreign countries, some of which are adversaries, some of which does harm,” Jacques said. “I want to make sure that these type of machines, and the software, is made here in America, and to mitigate any kind of tampering.”

If the bill passes, it would take effect July 1, months before the 2024 election.

“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, we’ve beefed up our election security by banning these unsupervised drop boxes, banning ballot harvesting, making sure that our voter ID is strengthened, and also created an Office of Election Crimes and Security,” he said.

“But it doesn’t mean that the job is done. We can’t rest on our laurels. We all we must always look at ways we can strap in and secure our elections,” Jacques said.

Lawmakers convene for the 2024 Legislative Session on Jan. 9.