Democrats are reviving their go-to critiques of basic election integrity measures following the Florida legislature passing SB 90 — an election integrity bill which adds restrictions to absentee voting, ballot harvesting, and ballot drop boxes among other items — describing it as suppressive and a “revival of Jim Crow in the state.”
The measure passed the Senate 23-17 and the House 77-40 this week, but not without debate from Democrats, many of whom have labelled the measure as suppressive.
“We are not here because we have a problem with our elections,” state Rep. Omari Hardy, a Democrat, said. “We are here because the Republican former president lost his re-election in November, and, rather than admitting his defeat, he spun a web of lies, radicalized those lies, in an attempt to explain away the loss.”
“This bill is the revival of Jim Crow in this state whether the sponsors admit it or not,” the Democrat asserted, echoing the language Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and President Joe Biden have used to describe similar state election integrity efforts in recent weeks.
“The laws, their various cousins in Republican state legislatures across the country, are one of the greatest threats we have to modern democracy in America,” Schumer declared during a March Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing on the “For the People Act.” Biden has said such proposals make “Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.”
During a House debate on Florida’s measure, Democrat state Rep. Michael Greico begged his colleagues, “Please do not Georgia my Florida.”
“That bill that was passed in the state just north of us sent us a message, and the response to that bill should let us know we should not be doing this,” he said.
State Rep. Anna V. Eskamani (D) piled on, referring to the measure as a “Georgia-style voter suppression bill,” stating it “makes it harder to vote by mail, prohibits groups from passing out water to voters & tries to limit ballot boxes.”
“I’m sad but proud of the Democratic Caucus for fighting so hard. Keep fighting,” she added:
FL’s Georgia-style voter suppression bill passed & now heads to Governor’s desk. It makes it harder to vote by mail, prohibits groups from passing out water to voters & tries to limit ballot boxes.
I’m sad but proud of the Democratic Caucus for fighting so hard. Keep fighting.
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) April 30, 2021
Democrat state Rep. Geraldine Thompson also criticized the move.
“It’s a sad day personally, because people like me, not long ago in history were not able to vote,” she said. “And I know personally the path and sacrifice it has taken to get here. We have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.”
State Rep. Tom Leek, a Republican, is among those who have defended the measure, stating it simply “creates good common-sense revisions to our election laws that will better ensure the integrity of elections.”
“This is an incremental legislative approach to address these issues, similar to what we had to do to get the timeliness problem solved, to get the efficiency problem solved — we are now focusing on making sure that every vote is a valid vote,” state Rep. Wyman Duggan (R) said, also defending the legislation.
“I take some issue with the fact that we are trying to somehow restrict the vote,” Rep. Ralph Massullo (R) remarked. “There are more ways to vote in Florida, and a longer opportunity, than just about any state in the nation. You all know that.”
The bill, as summarized by ABC News, imposes limits on drop boxes and restrictions on ballot harvesting while enhancing voter ID requirements:
In addition to new drop-box provisions, the Florida bill also bars local agencies from accepting outside money for nearly all election-related expenses and from mailing unsolicited ballots to voters; expands the no-solicitation zone outside polling facilities by 50 feet; reduces the number of elections a single vote-by-mail application covers; imposes new voter ID requirements for updating one’s registration record and applying for a mail ballot; allows counties to begin canvassing returned mail ballots sooner pre-election; sets up a state-run “live turnout data” dashboard for Election Day turnout and election night mail ballot processing; and gives poll watchers, candidates, political parties and committees, or their designees, more access to certain election processes and materials.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is expected to approve the measure.