How Far Will Republicans in Tallahassee Go to Suppress the Vote?
It’s time for us to let them know that we won’t tolerate anybody limiting our rights.
Florida’s 2020 election was well run, held up as a shining example to the Nation by Ron DeSantis and many others. Despite that, and how well they did up and down the ballot, Republicans have launched a series of bills over recent weeks designed to change, if not hobble, our election system.
Why? Because in 2020, for the first time, more Democrats voted by mail than did Republicans–almost 900,000 more. Because in 2018, Governor DeSantis won his race by less than 35,000 votes.
Because strategically reducing voter turnout within specific communities may be all that’s left when virtually everything your party stands for works to the detriment of working families, communities of color, labor, the middle class, small business, public health, public education, and the environment.
Faced with the visible disapproval of so many, including some within their own party, Republican leaders may have modified their approach so as to be less brazen, but they have by no means given up.
Where do things stand now?
Through a series of amendments, House Bill 7041 has changed, and the changed version is about to be taken up by the Senate in place of their SB 90. Eventually the two versions will have to be reconciled, but between them they will:
- Make it a crime to give water or anything else to citizens waiting to vote in person, while dramatically expanding the zone within which handing out water or anything else is prohibited
- Limit new vote-by-mail requests to one general election, half the length of current requests. This change alone will cost county elections departments between $4 million and $6 million by 2022, say the Supervisors
- Significantly limit access to the safe, secure, ballot drop boxes used without incident by more than 1.5 million Floridians in 2020
- Make it a serious crime for anyone but the voter themself to take their vote-by-mail ballot to a drop box, and even severely limit who can take their vote-by-mail ballot to the mailbox.
- Restrict the kinds of ID a voter would need to change their registration or address or name or to request a vote-by-mail
- Prohibit counties from using foundation grant money for voter education or registration
- Limit the number of signatures on file to which the elections officials can compare a voter’s most recent signature for verification
- Make information about a voter’s prior felonies available to the general public
Is it discrimination, or just politics?
Limiting access to vote-by-mail will clearly have a disparate and unfortunate impact on the elderly and voters with disabilities, but there is more. Using drop boxes to return vote-by-mail ballots played a significant role in overcoming historically well-justified fears, particularly in many of Florida’s Black communities, of the ability of the postal service to get the ballots in on time. And drop boxes also made it feasible for voters working in the service industries and others in underserved communities to quickly ensure that their ballots were cast without taking substantial time off of work or other obligations. Prohibiting voters from asking their family members, friends, neighbors, clergy, or caregivers to take their ballots to a drop box will severely limit their utility for these targeted sectors.
Making it harder to vote targets those for whom voting has always been hardest; for the elderly, the poor, those with disabilities, those without cars, those working two jobs, and those caring for others.
What can be done?
During this legislative session we have already seen Republican leadership step back from the very worst of what they brought forth, directly in response to reactions in the press, among elections officials, and from their constituents. We need to keep up the pace and increase the volume of those responses.
Contact your local Republican elected officials (you can find them here or look below) and tell them to vote no on both HB 7041 and CS/SB 90, and anything else that makes it more difficult for citizens to vote.
Do it today, share this message with your friends and networks, and then ask them to do the same.
MIAMI-DADE REPUBLICAN DELEGATION
Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. |36th District | Diaz.Manny@flsenate.gov | (305) 364-3073 (850) 487-5036
Sen. Ileana Garcia | 37th District | Garcia.Ileana@flsenate.gov | (850) 487-5037
Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez | 39th District | Rodriguez.Ana@flsenate.gov | (850) 487-5039
FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Rep. Tom Fabricio | 103rd District | Tom.Fabricio@myfloridahouse.gov | (850) 717-5103
Rep. David Borrero | 105th District | (850) 717-5105
Rep. Alex Rizo | 110th District | Alex.Rizo@myfloridahouse.gov | (305) 364-4126 | (850) 717-5110
Speaker Bryan Avila | 111th District | Bryan.Avila@myfloridahouse.gov | (305) 953-2932 | (850) 717-5111
Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera | 114th District | Demi.BusattaCabrera@myfloridahouse.gov |(850) 717-5114
Rep. Vance Aloupis | 115th District | Vance.Aloupis@myfloridahouse.gov |(305) 270-6530 | (850) 717-5115
Rep. Daniel Perez | 116th District |Daniel.Perez@myfloridahouse.gov | (305) 442-6800 |(850) 717-5116
Rep. Anthony Rodriguez | 118th District | Anthony.Rodriguez@myfloridahouse.gov |(305) 252-4352 | (850) 717-5118
Rep. Juan Fernandez Barquin | 119th District | JuanF.Barquin@myfloridahouse.gov | (305) 222-4119 |(850) 717-5119
Rep. Jim Mooney | 120th District | Jim.Mooney@myfloridahouse.gov |(850) 717-5120
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