Florida Congress on Thursday passed a controversial bill that civil rights advocates deem extremely harmful to those who want to vote by mail. The law only awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantes, who was quick to state that he “of course” will sign it. First it was Georgia, now it’s Florida. Texas and Arizona are something similar for the next few months. All are countries where Republican Donald Trump won the last presidential election or switched from Republican to Democrat at a minimum, which would ultimately end up awarding the victory to Joe Biden last November.
The bill, promoted by the Republicans, who control the Florida Congress, received 23 votes in favor and 17 votes against. Like other similar measures being pushed by Republicans in dozens of states across the country, Florida law impedes voting by mail, limits the number of ballot boxes available to cast their ballots during early voting days, and prohibits any kind of actions that could theoretically affect those who list Waiting to vote, which in practice means banning the provision of food or water to those who wait for long hours, in many cases under the strong Florida sun, to deposit your ballot. There is a provision similar to the one that has caused a major controversy in Georgia, where the new Electoral Integrity Act states that from now on, serving pizza or water to those waiting to vote is a direct crime. The statute was approved on March 25 by the State Council, with a Republican majority.
The law requires verification of the signature on polling day – which means that voters must have previously registered an address in the electoral authorities file, which occurs on limited occasions – and mandates that everyone who wants to vote by mail must do so. The request to vote in every election cycle, and not every two rounds as they are now, are other points that have caused controversy.
Governor DeSantis’ speech is bewildering to say the least. In support of changes to the electoral system, DeSantis described the presidential election in November as “the most transparent and efficient in the country.” Florida’s Republicans and Capitol Democrats hailed the election as a model for the nation. In that state, former President Donald Trump beat Joe Biden by more than three points.
The goal of these laws is always the same, according to Democrats and advocacy organizations: to intimidate, disrupt, and make voting more difficult for minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Although there are Republicans at this point they are not very clear whether the law will eventually turn against them, because millions of Florida residents vote by mail, including many from the Republican Party. In fact, 4.8 million Florists voted by mail in the presidential past, which is a record.
Nikki Freed, Florida’s Agriculture and Democracy Commissioner, said the new law represented “voter suppression, in simplicity and simplicity,” she told the IFE news agency. Farid concluded, “More Democrats than Republicans voted in the recent elections by mail, which is why Republicans in power want to restrict voting by mail and the ballot box to cast them.”
Democrats say it is the second controversial bill defended by Republican lawmakers in the past two years, after a law regulating the right to vote for ex-inmates in 2019. For the Democratic Party, the new law is a “voter suppression tactic” and aims to crush record support in mail voting. That his party got it in 2020, especially in the largest urban areas in the state. In 2020, 2.1 million Democrats voted by mail, compared to 1.5 million Republicans and another million voters who are not affiliated with any party.
Organizations such as the Historic Union for the Defense of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the United States (ACLU) or NAACP (The Great Black Advocacy Association) argue that the package of measures translates into a “suppression vote” for partisan purposes and say they will take the matter to court.
The main battle is patriotism and the Democrats have responded by introducing a common law that provides for a nationwide joint vote law, and, unlike the Republican offensive, seeks to expand and protect minimum suffrage across the country.
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