Florida Voting Restrictions are Officially Law
This morning, an event took place that activists have been dreading. The fallout is yet unknown. The ramifications may be severe. In an act that's been several weeks in the making, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed new legislation that seriously curtails our ability to vote in the State of Florida. And just like the similar bill that was signed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp last month, DeSantis opted to sign the bill behind closed doors, without any news agencies present. The only news outlet that was permitted to see the signing was Fox News, which broadcasted the signing exclusively over the airwaves.
DeSantis said the bill will enforce voter ID as he broadcasted the signing to millions of people. But there's a lot more in the bill beyond just voter ID.
Going forward, absentee ballot boxes, otherwise known as mail drop boxes, will only be available during the early voting period in Florida. Anyone who's there to assist voters needs to stay at least 150 feet from the polling location.
Democrats in the state have already begun to push back against the law, saying it'll be more difficult for voters who have work and childcare obligations that make it difficult for them to take time to go vote in person. Lawsuits were well-prepared before today and will be launched in short order.
The law also extends the current deadline for voter registration from 48 hours to 14 days. This is part of the law is a very welcome change, for me.
Former Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law several years ago that levied fines for anyone who turned in their voter registration and it arrived at the Supervisor of Elections later than 48 hours after the voter filled out the application. Thankfully, assuming Governor DeSantis signs the bill into law, that deadline will be raised to a much more reasonable 14 days instead of 48 hours.
The fine is $50 for individuals and $250 for organizations, such as local political groups and voter registration organizations.
News Service of Florida reported on the bill back on the 26th of April, before it had come to a vote, and their report includes a series of Democrats who call the new voting measure another form of voter suppression. To them, it seems the latest in a series of challenges from the Republican Party to limit voting rights in Florida after Florida voters approved a ballot measure to restore voting rights to felons by an overwhelming majority, back in 2018.
Democrats are saying the new law unfairly targets those in inner cities and minority communities, as it comes in the wake of the new Georgia bill that did similar things. In Georgia, these voter access restrictions caused a stir, forcing Major League Baseball to pull their all-star game from Atlanta, which was followed by a series of corporate boycotts.
Republicans feel the law will strengthen election integrity, though just by the logic of things, it doesn't seem it'll do much besides making voting more difficult.
The bill also goes against what DeSantis has been saying all along about the last Florida election, with the Governor saying it was "a model for the country," saying that Florida had no problems with the elections in years past whatsoever. So which is it?
As the bill passed through the Florida State Legislature, only a single Republican joined Democrats to stand against a vote in the Florida State Legislature to curtail voter access statewide. The measure also called SB90, passed by a margin of 5 votes, meaning it will be up to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to sign it. The bill makes changes to the way we register to vote and vote.
When Brian Kemp signed the Georgia law into effect, corporations boycotted the state and Major League Baseball pulled their all-star game. This could have economic repercussions for Florida, as well.
All in all, considering our elections have been great here in Florida, this is bound to do much more harm than good.