Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has been hit with a lawsuit over his ongoing failures to set special elections for three state legislative districts that are set to soon become vacant in South Florida. Each of the districts lean heavily Democratic, and “almost half the voters in each of the three districts are Black,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel adds. The time between the revelations that the seats would become vacant and the still absent establishments of special elections by DeSantis are the longest such delays in Florida across two decades, suggesting that political motivations are behind the demonstrably abnormal developments.
Leaving the seats vacant means that residents there could miss out on representation during the state legislative session that’s slated for early next year, when critical issues — like redistricting — will be considered. Attorney Don Mizell, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against DeSantis over the delay, commented as follows:
‘This is a nakedly political, shameless move on the part of the governor. And it’s strictly designed to undermine the strength of the Black voters in this state, whenever he can, or however he can, by hook or by crook, pursuant to his aspirations to be the next Donald Trump… The fact that he’s willing to abuse his discretion in such a way does not reflect well on his ethics… [DeSantis] is fully aware of what he is doing and the questionable legality — if only because he’s a Harvard-trained lawyer. So am I. I know that he knows better.’
The new case against DeSantis seeks his compliance with legal demands for the governor to set special elections in the event of vacancies. His recent Republican predecessors in his current office, including past Florida Governors Rick Scott, Charlie Crist, and Jeb Bush, have had considerably lower averages of time between legislative vacancies popping up and special elections getting called. This issue is not something that should be able to be turned into a political football — it’s a basic democratic function. The Harvard Election Law Clinic’s Theresa Lee, whose organization filed the lawsuit against DeSantis on behalf of the plaintiffs, said that if DeSantis “refuses to call these elections, the voters are being prohibited from voting,” which “just completely strikes at the heart of our system of representative government.” Read more on this at this link.
Three majority-Black legislative districts in Florida are currently vacant. State law compels Ron DeSantis to call a special election. He has refused, leaving the (Democratic) seats open to give Republicans more power in the legislature. Today he got hit with a lawsuit. 👇 https://t.co/U0zvpxJuK5
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) October 15, 2021