Voters of Florida, beware. Florida Republicans are up to their old dirty tricks again.
This time, they’re trying to make it harder to vote-by-mail, with a bill that will disproportionately affect the elderly, the poor and military voters, to the advantage of Republican candidates.
If this seems strange to you too, you’re not alone. As a matter of fact, the very same Republicans championing the bill, SB 90, have been singing Florida’s elections praises since Trump’s decisive win in the Sunshine State last year.
“Last November, Florida held the smoothest, most successful election of any state in the country,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis in a recent press release.
Former President Donald Trump tweeted that “whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True.”
Even Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican — who also happens to be the author and sponsor of the draconian legislation — recently stated: “Vote by mail was a success and it was operated successfully.”
So why change the law now?
Well, that’s an easy answer: last November, for the first time ever, more Democrats than Republicans voted by mail — and by significant margins, too. It can only help Republican DeSantis in his 2022 reelection if Florida Democratic voters are confused, do not reenroll, miss deadlines and do not vote.
Despite ringing endorsements from elected Republicans and recent polling that shows a majority of Florida’s voters don’t want any added restrictions on voting, Baxley, acting on behalf of the Governor, is introducing legislation to fix what he concedes is not broken. The bill proposes many new restrictions:
First, the law eliminates the use of drop boxes at Early Voting sites.
Those popular and secure boxes allowed voters to safely leave their ballots, ensuring they would be counted on time. Next, all current Vote by Mail (“VBM”) enrollments will be canceled. That means the 6 million Florida voters who are enrolled will have to sign up again and must re-enroll every election cycle. That is, if they learn that they must.
You see, the onus of informing voters of the many changes would fall on individual local Supervisors of Elections offices. Apparently, Republicans just don’t care that the bill will put a huge burden on Florida counties.
Lake County Election Supervisor Alan Hayes, a former Republican State Senator and President of the non-partisan group Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections, estimates the changes would cost his office $14-16 million in 2022. He said in a statement that SB 90 “presents a hurdle to voting, especially to our older population, which is not as mobile and to the military.”
Rather than improving our elections, the effect of SB90 will be to cost Florida counties millions of dollars, sow confusion and disenfranchise elderly voters, minority voters, and many others who rely on mail voting to cast their ballot safely. Any legislator of good conscience should vote against this nakedly partisan voter suppression plan.
If it passes, DeSantis should veto it.
Daniel Uhlfelder, a Northwest Florida attorney and public health advocate who has led the fight against DeSantis’ harmful agenda. He is the chairman and founder of Remove Ron, P.C., a Florida political committee aimed at ending DeSantis’ political career. In recent elections, he has served as litigation counsel for former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and a voter protection attorney for President Joe Biden’s campaign.
Jane Moscowitz, a graduate of Harvard Law School, spent the first 10 years of her law career as a federal prosecutor and then became a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. She is active in the Democratic Party, focusing on voter protection. In the last elections, she organized the Miami Dade Democratic Party’s ballot cure efforts.