Broward legislative delegation vows to push back on new voting regulations

Voting Population Concept
'This is a major, major emergency.'

The Broward County legislative delegation Tuesday vowed to oppose Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new efforts to add more voting regulations and pledged to curb the Governor’s executive privilege to call special elections.

Broward County Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott, had a laundry list of problems to discuss as lawmakers met Tuesday in Sunrise to contemplate priorities for the upcoming Session. Chief among his concerns: A new law enforcement agency DeSantis has proposed to more closely monitor voting and investigate voting crimes.

That proposal, along with DeSantis’ idea to reduce voter drop boxes while requiring more monitoring for the boxes, shows the Governor is “going in a direction that’s taking us back to our darker past,” Scott said.

The proposal is happening because of the 2013 Supreme Court decision allowing states to change their election laws without advance federal approval, Scott said.

“We’ve really created this perfect storm where somebody who wants to interfere in elections can now put heavier law enforcement at the polls, intimidate voters, and reduce voter turnout in areas where they don’t want to see voters,” Scott said, noting that it will likely affect minority areas the most. “This is a major, major emergency and something that we have to fight as hard as we can to prevent this from happening.”

Christina Pushaw, the Governor’s spokeswoman, did not respond to a request seeking comment.

Sen. Tina Polsky asked Scott how many voters will not be represented in the upcoming Session due to DeSantis’ delay in calling an election to fill the seats of Sen. Perry Thurston and Reps. Omari Hardy and Bobby DuBose who all resigned in July to run to replace the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings in Florida’s 20th Congressional District. Hastings, died April 6 after a cancer battle.

The Special Primary Election to fill those seats will be Jan 11, the same day the Session is scheduled to begin. If a Republican files for any of those seats, a Special General Election will be held three days before the 60th and final day of the 2022 Session.

“I’m working on a special elections bill to create actual timelines where we would hold special elections,” Polsky said to applause from her fellow delegates.

The 93-day stretch between announcements from Thurston, Hardy and DuBose that they were resigning and the announced schedule for the Special Election was entirely unnecessary, Scott said. He estimated that many more than the 249,000 voters registered in those districts will be left without a representative during the upcoming Session.

“Close to a million people possibly are losing out on representation in their Legislature because of partisan gamesmanship with the timeline,” Scott said. “We could have done these elections (for the congressional and legislative seats) simultaneously. It would have been easier and more efficient.”

The first set of voting regulations passed last Session were bad enough, Sen. Gary Farmer said.

“This is an abomination,” he said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]



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