This week, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a controversial new bill into law that imposes wide-reaching election restrictions, despite the fact that no systematic security issues were discovered under previous election guidelines in the state (or elsewhere in the country). Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), who was just elected for the first time earlier this year, subsequently put suppression-supporting Republicans on notice over their anti-democratic efforts.
The new Florida bill imposes a slew of pointless hurdles, like new restrictions on the times and ways that drop boxes for mail-in ballots can be available. Now, for boxes other than those at supervisors of elections offices, available times are limited to those when early in-person voting is also open. When in use, drop boxes are now also required to have constant in-person monitoring by an employee of the local supervisor of elections. These restrictions — which, again, do not answer any actually documented real-world problems — could make it more difficult for certain voters (like those who work a lot without the freedom to take ample time off) to cast their ballots.
On Twitter, Warnock subsequently called for “voting rights legislation” from the Senate. As he put it:
‘First it was Georgia, now Florida politicians are rewriting the rules to make it harder for people to vote. The Senate must pass voting rights legislation. Our democracy depends on it.’
First it was Georgia, now Florida politicians are rewriting the rules to make it harder for people to vote.
The Senate must pass voting rights legislation. Our democracy depends on it.
— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) May 7, 2021
At present, there’s a sweeping voting rights bill known as the For the People Act that’s awaiting action in the Senate, where filibuster provisions could block the legislation from proceeding. Under the Senate’s filibuster rule, the agreement of 60 Senators must be present before moving to a final vote on most legislation — meaning that even while in the minority because of the decisions of the voters of this country, Republicans can band together and keep Democrats from reaching the level of support needed to move to a final vote.
The office of Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), an original sponsor of the For the People Act in the House, explained earlier this year that the legislation would, among other things, “expand early voting and enhance absentee voting, simplify voting by mail, reduce long lines and wait times for voters and modernize America’s voting system,” but for now, Republicans prefer to stick to their voter suppression tactics, apparently.