House Democrats lambaste Republicans for seeking advantage with new election law

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Could private talks over shaping election law impact court challenges to the controversial bill?

Key members of the House Democratic caucus pilloried Republicans for trying to influence future elections with this year’s new election law.

Reporting from POLITICO Monday revealed email and text exchanges between Republican lawmakers and the Florida GOP’s top lawyer as they tried to use the election bill passed this spring to gain an electoral advantage. House Democratic Policy Chair Fentrice Driskell criticized Sarasota Sen. Joe Gruters and House bill sponsor and Spring Hill Rep. Blaise Ingoglia for trying to influence future elections.

Gruters has doubled as Chair of the Republican Party of Florida since 2019. Ingoglia held that position prior to Gruters, from 2015 to 2019.

“It’s absolutely wrong,” Driskell said. “I don’t understand how my colleagues, Senator Gruters or Rep. Ingoglia thought that this was acceptable.”

Republican lawmakers touted the bill (SB 90), which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in an exclusive Fox News event, as an election security measure. However, Gruters pushed Ingoglia to shorten how long mail-in ballot requests are valid. Additionally, he called the possibility of not canceling existing mail-in ballot requests “devastating” to Republicans’ 2022 chances.

Driskell called the back-and-forth proof that Republican leadership meant to disenfranchise voters to favor their own party. They decided to play politics, the Tampa lawmaker said.

“It’s just wrong. It’s gross. It’s everything that people hate about politics,” Driskell said.

House Democratic Co-Leader Evan Jenne, of Dania Beach, said Republicans involved had no concern for “the democracy that we swore to uphold.”

“It’s very clear that there was a successful attempt to game the system in order to specifically help one one candidate more than any other,” Jenne said.

The election bill faces two lawsuits calling changes to drop box and voter registration law unconstitutional.

Driskell, a lawyer by trade, hopes the revelations impact those legal challenges, but isn’t certain how that might happen.

“But bring in the legislative intent, that might be something that could be impactful,” Driskell said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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