Scene One: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came to West Palm Beach Thursday to sign a flawed and needless overhaul of state election laws. Not one county election supervisor was in favor of it. Republican and Democratic supervisors alike called the changes unnecessary and predict problems at the polls and a lower voter turnout when DeSantis himself runs for reelection next year.
Scene Two: DeSantis signs Senate Bill 90 at a morning rally at a Hilton hotel near Palm Beach International Airport. The woman at the door wears a Trump hat and a pickup truck has a big Trump flag and one that says “DeSantis 2024: Make America Florida.” Guests are given pro-DeSantis stickers as a ceremonial bill signing turns blatantly partisan on an issue that should never be partisan: voting.
Scene Three: The news media is blocked from entering the hotel’s Majestic ballroom and must peer through a plate glass window as DeSantis signs into law one of the most controversial measures of the year.
Only Fox News was allowed in as Florida became the latest state to join the growing trend of imposing new barriers to voting.
“I’m not a fan of drop boxes at all, to be honest with you,” DeSantis tells the fawning panel on “Fox & Friends.” He refuses to take questions and is whisked away.
America gets another revealing glimpse of life under the iron-fisted rule of DeSantis in Florida, a place where the doors are shut tight to anyone who might question his wisdom or challenge his authority.
Locking out the media is the latest sign of DeSantis’ authoritarian grip on governing the nation’s third-largest state.
The law restricts the use of vote-by-mail drop boxes, forces voters to request vote-by-mail ballots more often, makes it harder for third-party groups to register voters, threatens supervisors with punitive $25,000 fines if a drop box isn’t always under human supervision and prohibits private citizens from handing out water or food at the polls.
The oppressive law perpetuates the Big Lie of a stolen election by insinuating that Florida election laws needed fixing or don’t prevent fraud. That’s false. As DeSantis himself has said repeatedly, Florida ran a seamless election last November, with an impressive 77% turnout during a pandemic. Nearly half of all voters voted by mail, many of them Democrats, yet Republicans still won.
But they’re not happy, so they’re cynically attacking voting by mail for one simple reason: because Democrats like it, especially people of color, and they want to keep voting that way.
The ink from DeSantis’ signature was barely dry when the League of Women Voters and two other groups filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, challenging the constitutionality of the new law as it relates to the First and 14th amendments.
In their lawsuit, plaintiffs named all 67 county election supervisors as defendants. That should further expose the truth that the true voting experts in Florida already know: This law is indefensible, makes it harder for people to vote and should be struck down.