Black Florida legislators and statewide partners plan to launch a “Stay Woke Go Vote” campaign aimed at drawing attention to recent actions by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature.
The campaign will launch May 21. Organizers say it is in response to a push to “try and make it harder for people of color to vote,” including a law supported by DeSantis that created a new election police unit as well as a redistricting plan for Congress that dismantled and reshaped two districts now held by Black Democrats.
Organizers, including state Sen. Shevrin Jones, say the launch will include numerous Black elected officials and community activists and that people can find out more if they text “STAYWOKE” to 52886.
DeSantis has made his opposition to what he terms “woke” policies and “indoctrination” a key part of his recent legislative agenda. The push has helped him win plenty of national attention from conservatives and conservative media outlets. The agenda has included new laws and policies designed to block the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms (HB 7).
For the past two years, the Governor also has pushed for election law changes, including SB 90. That law stopped volunteers from collecting mail-in ballots from nonfamily members, imposed new restrictions on drop boxes, set up new requirements for groups registering voters and limited “line-warming” activities outside of polling places.
Voting rights and civil rights groups challenged SB 90 and won the first round in court when U.S. District Judge Mark Walker concluded in late March the law intentionally discriminated against minority voters. Judge Walker blocked several provisions. But last Friday, a federal appeals court stayed Walker’s ruling — meaning the changes made by SB90 will likely be in effect for this year’s election.
Meanwhile, there are also legal challenges pending against the new congressional map drafted by the Governor’s Office and adopted by legislators during an April Special Session. That map is projected to increase the number of Republicans holding congressional seats in Florida in part by breaking apart the North Florida congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat.