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Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signs election bill with stricter voting requirements in Florida

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Election bill

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday morning signed into law a controversial voting bill aimed at curbing access to mail-in voting in the state. The bill was signed exclusively on “Fox & Friends,” and other local media outlets were denied access. 

Senate Bill 90, includes stricter voter ID requirements for voting by mail, creates limits on who can pick up and return a voter’s ballot, bans private funding for elections, expands partisan observation during ballot tabulation, and creates additional restrictions for drop box use. 

“Me signing this bill says: Florida, your vote counts, your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency and this is a great place for democracy,” DeSantis said after signing it.

Last week, the Florida Republican-controlled state House and Senate came to an agreement and approved SB90 along with party-line votes, in the final months of its legislative sessions.  “Florida leads the nation in election reforms because the Florida Legislature and Governor have taken a proactive approach to review and address any election issues,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson. 

But even though members of Florida’s Senate expressed their support on the bill, it already faces legal challenges. A coalition of activists, including the League of Women Voters of Florida and the Black Voters Matter Fund, announced it had filed a lawsuit within minutes of DeSantis signing the law. For instance, the lawsuit questions the new restrictions on ballot drop boxes and the prohibition on organizations and volunteers returning ballots on behalf of voters.

Voters of color tend to rely on after-hours drop boxes since it is most difficult for them to take hours off of work during the day, and to find transportation to polling places. With the new bill, their right to cast a vote finds more obstacles. 

With the new law, voting access is reduced in one of the critical battleground states in the country. In November, former President Donald J. Trump won in Florida only by about three percentage points and is now one of the Republican states to pass restrictive voting laws, following Georgia, Montana, and Iowa. 

Texas is following the same path after the House of Representatives moved a similar bill. Nonetheless, it still needs to pass at the state House and the Senate of Texas.

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