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Politics GOP Gov. DeSantis signs Florida election bill into law amid new controversy

17:25  06 may  2021
17:25  06 may  2021 Source:   abcnews.go.com

Dems fume over silence from DeSantis on Florida election

  Dems fume over silence from DeSantis on Florida election Democrats are voicing frustration with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) over the special election for the late Rep. Alcee Hastings's (D-Fla.) seat.Hastings, who represented a majority Black district in South Florida for nearly three decades, died early this month after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Florida law gives DeSantis broad authority to set a date for the special election to replace him, but he has so far remained silent on when voters can expect to choose their next representative.

Gov. Ron DeSantis created new controversy around Florida's already controversial new election law Thursday, apparently giving exclusive access to the signing ceremony to Fox News and barring other media outlets from covering the event at the Hilton in West Palm Beach, according to reporters on the ground.

"In about an hour, behind this door at meeting facility at Airport Hilton in West Palm Beach, @GovRonDeSantis will sign law making it harder for some people to vote. No Florida reporters allowed in because he’s given an exclusive to cable channel Fox News for the bill signing," tweeted Anthony Man, the senior political writer for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He said that "hundreds" of DeSantis' and former President Donald Trump's supporters were also allowed into the event.

Will DeSantis, Rubio and Scott torch each other to vault from Florida to the White House?

  Will DeSantis, Rubio and Scott torch each other to vault from Florida to the White House? A battle is shaping up behind the scenes between three strong Republicans in Florida for the 2024 presidential race.Of course, one never truly knows when it comes to Trump. There was the bizarre recent news report by Business Insider in which a Trump "adviser" declared that the former president "has lost 15 pounds since he left the White House." One "veteran Republican strategist" told the publication: "I think there's an extra 10 percent to 15 percent chance he runs if he lost 20 pounds.

MORE: Restrictive Texas voting bill advances to floor vote

"Not a single reporter is being let in. This in a 'sunshine' state that prides itself on open government," CBS12 reporter Jay O'Brien echoed. O'Brien said his station was supposed to be a pool camera to feed the event to other affiliates across the country.

DeSantis' spokespeople did not respond to ABC News's inquiries about the event. ABC affiliate WPBF said other outlets were allowed in after DeSantis signed the bill and made remarks, which happened live on "Fox and Friends" around 8:45 a.m.

Ron DeSantis wearing a suit and tie: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, speaks during a news conference at West Miami Middle School in Miami on May 4, 2021. © Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP, File Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, speaks during a news conference at West Miami Middle School in Miami on May 4, 2021.

"This keeps us ahead of the curve," DeSantis said. "We're proud of the strides that we've made. We're not resting on our laurels and me signing this bill here says, 'Florida, your vote counts. Your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency.'"

DeSantis signs GOP-backed election bill

  DeSantis signs GOP-backed election bill Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that will change the way the Sunshine State conducts its elections, despite his praise for 2020. DeSantis signed the bill, which was passed last week, on Thursday morning at a Hilton in West Palm Beach, Florida. Only Fox News was permitted inside the event.The bill prevents state agencies from sending voting-by-mail ballots to people who didn’t request one, disallows ballot harvesting (the collection of ballots by a third party who then turns them in to election officials), and puts restrictions on the hours of operations for drop boxes.

Democrats were united against the bill, saying it's unnecessary and meant to suppress the vote among historically disenfranchised communities. One Republican senator also voted against the bill. Craig Latimer, president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections Association, issued a statement after the bill passed saying while some of the "most disenfranchising" provisions were cut from the bill before passage, "this legislation still makes requesting Vote By Mail ballots and returning those ballots harder."

Florida's bill, SB 90, imposes new limitations on mail voting, including lessening the number of elections a single vote-by-mail application covers and restricting ballot drop boxes. Only drop boxes at main office locations, not the ones at early voting locations, can be open after regular hours but all drop boxes must be physically manned by an election worker when they are accessible to voters. While they did not require in person monitoring, drop boxes did have to be under constant video surveillance previously.

What Do Florida's New Election Laws Say? Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Curbing Mail-In Voting

  What Do Florida's New Election Laws Say? Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Curbing Mail-In Voting The new omnibus law targets drop boxes, voter identification, mail ballot applications and third-party ballot collection at nursing homes.The state's new election laws will include stricter voter ID requirements for voting by mail, create limits on who can pick up and return a voter's ballot at drop boxes and ban election officials from using private funding to pay for elections.

Ron DeSantis wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera © Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP, File MORE: Rep. Charlie Crist, former governor of Florida, announces bid for old job

SB 90 also bars local agencies from accepting outside money for nearly all election-related expenses and from mailing unsolicited ballots to voters and imposes new voter ID requirements when applying for a mail ballot or updating one's voter registration record. The bill also bans what Republicans call "ballot harvesting" -- someone collecting and returning others' mail ballots -- by limiting voters to possessing ballots belonging only to members of their or their spouse's immediate family and a maximum of two other voters per election.

Just after DeSantis signed the bill, two lawsuits were filed challenging the new law. The first, filed against the secretary of state, attorney general and all 67 county election supervisors, states that the bill will "impede every step of the voting process in Florida," but that it will not impact the state's voters' equally.

"It 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," the complaint reads.

GOP-backed voting restrictions like Florida's will appease Trump more than they'll help Republicans win elections

  GOP-backed voting restrictions like Florida's will appease Trump more than they'll help Republicans win elections For years, Republicans dominated mail voting in Florida. After Trump waged war on the practice, the state GOP passed new limits on it.Between Fox News scoring an exclusive for the signing and the effusive praise from the "Fox & Friends'" hosts for DeSantis, the event was clearly made-for-Trump television.

The plaintiffs include the League of Women Voters of Florida, Black Voters Matter and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans. As relief, the plaintiffs request that several provisions of the bill, including the ones around drop boxes and vote-by-mail requests, are declared unconstitutional.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund also filed a lawsuit challenging the law, alleging it violates the Voting Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

MORE: Florida legislature passes election bill imposing new restrictions on mail-in voting

DeSantis's reported media snub hearkens back to what unfolded in Georgia at the end of March, when Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Peach State's sweeping new election bill, SB 202 or "The Election Integrity Act of 2021," and ignited a nationwide outcry, marking the first significant battle in what's become a war over voting rights. Kemp signed the bill behind closed doors, later posting a photo of it to Twitter that enraged activists and Democratic lawmakers as one state representative, Park Cannon, was arrested after continuing to knock on the door where Kemp was delivering remarks to media after signing the bill, hoping to gain access. Six lawsuits have been filed challenging Georgia's law.

The effort to impose new voting restrictions following months of Trump and allies spreading conspiracies about a rigged and stolen election is not unique to Georgia and Florida. State lawmakers introduced hundreds of bills during the 2021 legislative session that would reduce access to the ballot and at least five other restrictive voting bills have been enacted in other states. Texas lawmakers are set to take up one of its omnibus elections bill, HB 6, for a floor vote Thursday.

Ron DeSantis is on a path to 2024. Democrats have a chance to blow it up. .
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a clear pathway to running for president in 2024, emerging from the coronavirus pandemic as the most recognizable Republican governor in the country. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Hyatt Regency on February 26, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

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