Apr 30, 2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis late Thursday said that "of course" he is going to sign into law a newly passed Republican bill restricting mail-in voting, imposing new voter ID requirements, and limiting the use of ballot drop boxes--hurdles that could make it more difficult for millions of residents to exercise their right to the franchise.
The GOP-dominated Florida legislature gave final approval Thursday to S.B. 90, legislation that would also ban advocacy groups from giving out food and water to voters waiting in line and further empower partisan election observers by allowing them to challenge every ballot against which they have a "reasonable objection."
"Like its predecessors, the unnecessary restrictions imposed by this bill will disproportionately impact voters of color, voters with disabilities, elderly voters, and low-income voters."
-- Kara Gross, ACLU of Florida
"With the passage S.B. 90, Florida has become another willful accomplice to voter suppression," Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement. "It has become the most recent state to impose restrictions on the fundamental right to vote following the high turnout of voters in 2020."
"Like its predecessors, the unnecessary restrictions imposed by this bill will disproportionately impact voters of color, voters with disabilities, elderly voters, and low-income voters. Simply put, S.B. 90 is undemocratic to its core," Gross continued. "Rather than moving forward and tackling the issues facing our state and dealing with the effects of the largest public health crisis of our lifetime, certain legislators are silencing Floridians by restricting access to the ballot box."
The Florida GOP's sweeping attack on voting rights comes as Republicans across the country are pushing more than 300 similar bills to restrict ballot access in the wake of the 2020 elections, which saw historic voter turnout--driven in large part by expanded access to mail-in voting during the pandemic.
GOP lawmakers in dozens of states are now moving aggressively to roll back mail-in voting, claiming without evidence that the method is vulnerable to fraud--a falsehood that former President Donald Trump repeated incessantly in the months leading up to the 2020 election. Last month, Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a bill that contains similar provisions to those in S.B. 90.
Asked to provide details on alleged mail-in voter fraud during debate over S.B. 90 earlier this week, Florida state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-35) responded, "I don't know, but I'm sure it was going on."
"Just the fact that they weren't caught doesn't necessarily mean that it's not happening," Ingoglia said.
"Between Georgia and Florida, I really need to go check to see if we ever left the Jim Crow era."
--Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones (D)
Under S.B. 90, which DeSantis is expected to sign into law shortly, voters will have to request mail-in ballots every election cycle rather than receiving them automatically through an absentee voter list. The bill also adds a new voter ID mandate for absentee ballots.
Additionally, as the Washington Postreported Thursday, the measure "prohibits mobile drop boxes, and it requires local election supervisors to staff all drop boxes and to allow ballots to be dropped in them only during early-voting hours."
"Supervisors who leave a drop box accessible outside those hours are subject to a civil penalty of $25,000," the Post noted. "The state's association of county election supervisors opposes the law."
After S.B. 90 first passed the Florida Senate earlier this week, state Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-35) tweeted, "Between Georgia and Florida, I really need to go check to see if we ever left the Jim Crow era."
Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.