On Thursday morning, Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a sweeping anti-voter bill into law that enacts restrictions that will make it more difficult to vote in upcoming elections, especially for people of color, young voters, and disabled voters.
Senate Bill 90 includes provisions that make it more difficult to vote by mail by forcing Florida residents to request ballots more frequently and enacting stricter voter ID laws for mail-in ballots, adds restrictions to the use of ballot drop boxes which must be fully staffed during limited hours in fewer locations, expands partisan observation power during ballot counting, penalizes anyone trying to hand out food and water to voters waiting in line, restricts who can turn in a ballot on behalf of an absentee voter, among other measures that activists argue will adversely affect voter turnout.
The bill goes into effect immediately but faces challenges in court from a host of pro-democracy groups including the Black Voters Matter Fund, The League of Women Voters of Florida, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, and other organizations that hope to see the law overturned.
A coalition of over 20 groups including All Voting Is Local, the NAACP, Florida ACLU chapters, and the Florida League of Women Voters sent a letter to Governor DeSantis prior to the bill signing asking him to veto the legislation.
“We are particularly concerned that SB 90, by design, seeks to silence voters’ voices based on what they look like or where they come from. For example, Black and brown voters work longer hours and live in larger households, making changes such as cutting out 24-hour drop boxes and limiting help with ballot delivery into proportionately greater barriers. Black and brown voters and young voters also disproportionately rely on community voter registration drives to access the ballot, making these restrictions especially unfair. No matter their race, background or zip code, Floridians must have the ability to safely and freely cast their ballots so that every voice is heard,” the letter states in part.
The new bill is part of a larger effort by Republican controlled state legislatures to restrict voting access amid unprecedented voter turnout in the 2020 elections and former President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 361 bills aimed at suppressing the vote were introduced in 47 states as of March 24.