Florida governor Ron DeSantis signs controversial election bill as ‘reitreRon’ trends on Twitter

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Education-Florida (Miami Herald Staff)

Education-Florida (Miami Herald Staff)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, proudly signed a new voting rights bill that will likely make it harder for people of colour to cast a ballot.

Mr DeSantis was so proud of the new bill that he decided to sign it during an exclusive interview with Fox & Friends.

Journalists from other outlets who arrived to cover the bill signing were turned away and told the event was “Fox only.”

The bill will limit the number of ballot drop boxes available to voters, require greater ID for voters, and force people to have to sign up for the voter roll every year they want to receive a mail-in ballot. Groups including the NAACP and Common Cause warned that the bill’s provisions will make it harder for people to vote in the state.

Despite the fact that Mr DeSantis lauded the state’s election security in 2020, he apparently felt it was necessary to make voting more difficult.

“I have what we think is the strongest election integrity measures in the country,” Mr DeSantis told Fox News. “We’re making sure we’re enforcing voter ID… We’re also banning ballot harvesting. We’re not gonna let political operatives go and get satchels of votes to dump them in some drop box.”

“Ballot harvesting” has become one of the latest boogeymen Republican election reformers have used to justify legislation that restricts voting rights. Essentially, ballot harvesting allows a third party individual to collect and deliver ballots in some states.

The practice is often used to help individuals who cannot or struggle to physically visit a polling location cast their vote.

Drop boxes will now keep the same hours as the state’s election offices, and a monitor will be required to watch over the locations.

“We’re also prohibiting mass mailing of balloting. We’ve had absentee voting in Florida for a long time. You request the ballot. You get it. And you mail it in. But to just indiscriminately send them out is not a recipe for success,” Mr DeSantis said, without providing further detail.

Last year was the first time in years that Democrats have outvoted Republicans by mail, casting 680,000 more mail-in ballots than Republicans did.

The bill was immediately challenged in court by civil rights organisations.

“BREAKING: Minutes after Governor DeSantis signs new voter suppression law, @LWVFlorida, @BlackVotesMtr, @ActiveRetirees file federal court lawsuit,” Marc Elias, a Democratic lawyer, tweeted. “Proud to be part of the legal team supporting these great organizations protecting the right to vote!”

The lawsuit alleges that the weight of the bill will be disproportionately felt by disadvantaged communities.

“SB 90 does not impede all of Florida’s voters equally,” the lawsuit says. “It is crafted to and will operate to make it more difficult for certain types of voters to participate in the state’s elections, including those voters who generally wish to vote with a vote-by-mail ballot and voters who have historically had to overcome substantial hurdles to reach the ballot box, such as Florida’s senior voters, youngest voters, and minority voters.”

Mr DeSantis’s strange bill signing ceremony predictably stirred comments and criticism on social media. Some users questioned the governor’s decision to make the event a “Fox News exclusive” despite it involving a civic leader engaging in public duties, while others skewered the provisions of the legislation.

The social media backlash eventually generated the trending hashtags “retireRon” and “deathsantis” among his critics.

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