In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a controversial set of election reforms into law on Thursday — and within minutes of his signature, a coalition of voting rights advocates filed a federal lawsuit against the bill.
Proud to be part of the legal team supporting these great organizations protecting the right to vote!https://t.co/KvPqM6wvhA
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) May 6, 2021
The coalition behind the lawsuit includes the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matters Fund, and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, in addition to individual voters from the state. Voting rights lawyer Marc Elias was also involved in the filing, and as summarized by Elias’s organization, the case alleges that the “drop-box restrictions, vote by mail repeat request requirement, volunteer assistance ban, deceptive registration warning and food and water ban violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”
The lawsuit also states that the new bill “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.”
To be clear: No systematic security issues were discovered under existing election procedures in Florida or elsewhere. Yet, in the wake of Trump’s brazen lies about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election process, Republican state leaders across the country have rushed to implement substantial changes. Among other provisions, the newly signed Florida bill mandates that ballot drop-boxes “must be supervised and would only be available when elections offices and early voting sites are open,” as summarized by a Miami-area CBS affiliate. This restriction is a pointless hurdle in the electoral process to those who might have a more difficult time making it out to a ballot drop-off location.
Seemingly making the connection to Trump’s election conspiracy theories quite clear, the new Florida legislation also means that, if left in place, county Supervisors of Elections “will also be required to post, beginning at 7 p.m. on Election Day, the number of vote-by-mail ballots that have been received and the number of vote-by-mail ballots that remain uncounted,” as explained by the CBS affiliate.
After the 2020 presidential election, Trump claimed — with no evidence — that delays in tabulations of mail-in ballots were used as cover for manipulating the vote counts. Ordering Supervisors of Elections to release the numbers of mail-in ballots on hand seems like a response to this baseless conspiracy theory, because the numbers could be used as a verification that fraudulent votes weren’t manufactured — but there’s no evidence that any such systematic fraudulent vote manufacturing took place during the 2020 cycle. It’s a problem that doesn’t exist, and demanding the data release seems to constitute another pointless new procedural hurdle that has no relationship to the documented realities of U.S. elections.