Laurel Lee, Florida’s Secretary of State who oversees elections, has suddenly resigned without any explanation.
There is some speculation that she will run for the US House. Governor DeSantis will apparently get to appoint a replacement just before the primaries.
Lee has been secretary of state since February 2019, after DeSantis’ first secretary of state, former Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel was forced to resign amid controversy.
Before then, Lee was appointed circuit court judge by former Gov. Rick Scott in 2013, serving in Hillsborough County.
The Florida Secretary of State’s biggest job is overseeing the Division of Elections, including candidate filings and vote tabulations. DeSantis will now have to appoint someone to take on the job, one month before candidate qualifying and with the August primaries just a few months away.
Many states had controversial 2020 elections…
Since then, Republican lawmakers and DeSantis have enacted a series of measures that Democrats, civil-rights and voting-rights groups argue make it harder for Black and Hispanic Floridians to register and vote. A bill passed this year drew heavy scrutiny, at least in part because it created an office in the Department of State to investigate alleged voting irregularities.
The state also is embroiled in legal battles about a congressional redistricting plan that DeSantis pushed through the Legislature last month. As the chief elections officer, Lee is a defendant in those lawsuits, which include allegations that the plan unconstitutionally reduces the number of districts likely to elect Black representatives.
Lee submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to a Thursday email sent to the state’s county election supervisors by Maria Matthews, director of the state’s Division of Elections.
Matthews said Lee was resigning to pursue “other opportunities,” but she’s considered to be jumping into the race for Congressional District 15, which takes in Zephyrhills, western Lakeland and part of Lake County as well as northeastern Hillsborough. Lee’s letter to DeSantis gives no reason for the resignation and says nothing about her future plans except, “I look forward to what the future holds.”
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