Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a voter suppression bill into law Thursday, granting "Fox & Friends" exclusive access to the cover the signing. (Image: screenshot/"Fox & Friends")

'This Is How Fascists Operate': DeSantis Signs Anti-Voting Bill Behind Closed Doors for Fox News

"Democracy is literally dying in the dark."

Julia Conley

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday barred local media outlets from covering his signing of S.B. 90, the latest state-level voter suppression law which makes voting by mail—which millions of Floridians have done for years—more difficult and discourages voters from waiting in long lines at the polls.

The Republican governor, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, gave Fox News exclusive access to the bill signing, drawing condemnation from rights advocates and at least one local reporter who learned Thursday morning that he would not be able to cover the event.

"We were a pool camera, assigned to feed this event to affiliates nationwide. Now, the only camera will be Fox News," tweeted CBS 12 reporter Jay O'Brien. "It's not just us. Not a single reporter is being let in. This in a 'sunshine' state that prides itself on open government." 

Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, a Democrat who represents District 47, was appalled.

Journalist and voting rights expert Ari Berman said DeSantis's decision to bar all media outlets other than Fox, which joined Trump last year in claiming that allowing expanded voting by mail in the 2020 election would lead to rampant fraud, was "extremely telling."

"Democracy [is] literally dying in the dark," Berman added.

Other critics echoed the rebuke.

DeSantis proudly told "Fox & Friends" he believes S.B. 90 contains the nation's "strongest election integrity measures" as he signed the legislation. The law requires votes to reapply for mail-in ballots every two years rather than every four years, as they did under previous guidelines; restricts the use of election drop boxes; and prohibits actions that could assist people waiting to vote—including offering "items" such as water or food.

The new law is modeled on a voter suppression measure passed in Georgia in March. Lawmakers in Iowa, Utah, and Arkansas have also passed similar laws ahead of the 2022 election, and legislators in 47 states have introduced 361 voter suppression bills, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.  

As of March 24, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states.

By signing the bill, said the civil rights organization All Voting Is Local-Florida, "DeSantis is continuing a disturbing, nationwide trend of turning lies into legislation."

"The truth is during the 2020 election cycle, Floridians refused to choose between their health and the right to vote, casting vote-by-mail ballots in record numbers so they could safely and securely steer the fate of our democracy," said Brad Ashwell, director of the organization. "SB90 weaponizes lies and uses them as a basis to exact a vendetta against Floridians, assaulting our freedom to vote. There is no integrity in restricting access to the ballot box.”

Following the signing of S.B. 90, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a federal lawsuit against Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee, on behalf of Common Cause, Disability Rights Florida, and Florida NAACP. The groups denounced DeSantis and the state Republican Party for "using the myth of voter fraud to pass sweeping restrictions on voting."

"SB 90 creates barriers between Floridians and their right to vote. By signing this bill, Gov. DeSantis added Florida to the shameful list of states that are moving backward on voting access, rather than forward," said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections for Common Cause. "Every voter in America has the right to have their voice heard, by casting and having their ballot counted—that's how our government 'by the people' is supposed to work."


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.

Senators Set to Leave Town for 10-Day Recess Without Action on Gun Violence Crisis

"How many more children, mothers, and fathers need to be murdered in cold blood before the Senate has the guts to ban assault weapons and take on the NRA?" asked Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson ·


Scientists to BlackRock Vice Chairman: New Fossil Fuel Development 'Incompatible' With 1.5°C

"The only responsible course of action is to do everything in our power to stop fossil fuel expansion and further emissions."

Jessica Corbett ·


Goldman Prize Awarded to Activists Who Showed Nature's 'Amazing Capability to Regenerate'

"While the many challenges before us can feel daunting, and at times make us lose faith, these seven leaders give us a reason for hope and remind us what can be accomplished in the face of adversity."

Julia Conley ·


Faith Leaders Call for Federal Election Monitors in Georgia to Protect Black Voters

"It is imperative that our election this November is monitored to preserve ballot integrity and ensure ballot security."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Inaction Is Bought': Here Are the Receipts on NRA's Purchase of GOP

"The issue is money in politics," said Nina Turner after the nation's latest mass killing of students and teachers. Right-wing lawmakers are "allowing children to die because of the gun lobby."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo