Voting-rights and civil-rights advocates name for veto of GOP-driven election reforms

Pro-Trump and Pro-Biden protesters are separated from the police in Philadelphia, where Republicans insisted that Donald Trump’s defeat was caused by widespread electoral fraud. Courts across the country found no evidence of this. Florida’s 2020 election administration amid the COVID pandemic has been lauded as exemplary. Credit: Chris McGrath / Getty Images

Twenty voting and civil rights organizations told Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday to veto the election reform bill put for signature by Republican-led legislation in Florida.

The group includes the Fair Elections Center in Washington, DC, and Florida, chapters of All Voting is Local, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, the Common Cause, Faith in Florida, the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, the Sierra Club, and Southern Poverty Law Center.

In a letter to DeSantis, the organizations said that the legislation known as Senate Bill 90 “creates obstacles for eligible Floridians to exercise their freedom of choice by making postal ballot papers less accessible and difficult, severely limiting voter support and rendering them” Community voter registration campaigns are more difficult to reach their critical reach. We ask that you do the right thing with Florida voters, stand by your pride in the Florida 2020 election administration and veto this harmful bill. “

DeSantis, who called for such reforms, has until May 18 to veto or legally sign SB 90.

SB 90 Republican sponsors – Hernando County Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, former Florida Republican Party chairman, and Senator Dennis Baxley, who represents parts of Sumter, Lake, and Marion counties – said the reforms were potential, if not even tackle proven cases of fraud by setting “guard rails” on the laws on state elections widely praised in 2020.

Critics, including Florida’s election officer, said throughout the 2021 legislature that the proposed guard rails would do nothing but make voting more difficult, especially postal voting, without making elections safer.

Ingoglia said in the April 28 debate in the House that the opinions of the locally elected election officers are irrelevant.

“In all honesty, it is the legislation that makes the law,” he said. “We have had talks with them and only have one fundamental difference of opinion.”

SB 90 restricts the use of ballot drop boxes, restrictions that can aid in the collection or delivery of a voter’s postal ballot on their behalf, and adds tons of new rules for registering for voting, requesting a ballot by mail, and signature verification and collecting ballots, counting ballots, watching ballot counting, reporting results, and challenging results.

The groups argue that these reforms will inherently disproportionately disadvantage minority and young voters, in part because many have unconventional working hours that make access to traditional voting methods difficult, and because many become voters by registering voters in the community that would restrict SB 90.

The letter stresses that over the objections of the minority Democrats, Republican legislatures have refused to accept changes that the group says would have made safe voting more accessible, no less.

League of Women Voters President Patricia Brigham, Local Voting Director Brad Ashwell, and others have said the reforms reflect GOP efforts in 47 states to suppress voting, particularly by Democrats, according to the Brennan Center for Justice . Ashwell calls the GOP vote changes a “direct backlash” to record the number of mail-in votes from Democrats and minority voters in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While Republican candidates made gains across the country last fall, including in Florida, ex-Republican President Donald Trump lost to Democratic President Joe Biden, fueling the “big lie” that Trump lost in favor of the Democrats due to widespread electoral fraud. Claims of widespread fraud persist among many Republicans but have never been confirmed by evidence.

Senate Bill 90 would also give DeSantis the power to fill vacancies on certain elected bodies, notably on the Broward County Commission, where two Democrats stepped down to run for the seat left open by the death of Congressman Alcee Hastings is. Broward Democrats denounce this provision of SB 90, calling it a governor takeover who would nominate Republicans for the vacant county cities. Without this provision, Broward voters would elect the new commissioners.

DeSantis announced Tuesday in Miami that it had set the dates for special elections to replace Hastings: November 2 for the primary and January 11 for the general election. Democrats expressed dismay at the data as Hastings’ former district remains unrepresented until Jan. 11 and the low Democratic majority in the US House of Representatives will be reduced for the coming months.

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