By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Governor Ron DeSantis from the state of Florida signed controversial voting restrictions on Thursday, prompting legal action from advocates who maintain the measures seek to make it harder for minorities and younger people to vote.
The restrictions seek to curb access to mail-in voting and limit drop-off boxes for voters to deposit ballots.
DeSantis signed the bill live on a Fox News morning television show, downplaying those aspects of the law while emphasizing some of its other provisions, including voter identification requirements, limiting who is eligible to pick up ballots and banning private funding to help run elections.
“Right now I have what we think is the strongest election integrity measures in the country,” DeSantis said as he lent his pen to the bill. “This keeps us ahead of the curve.”
The measure is the latest in Republican states ostensibly aimed at combatting voter fraud after former US President Donald Trump claimed it was the cause for his sweeping defeat in the presidential election last November. But neither he nor any of his political allies have shown any evidence of widespread wrongdoing.
DeSantis has maintained the integrity of his state’s 2020 polls.
A previously passed law in the battleground state of Georgia was widely assailed as seeking to infringe upon the ability of minority voters to vote, particularly Black Americans. It led to far-reaching economic blowback when businesses sharply criticized the law or curtailed operations, including Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta.
Democrats and voting rights advocates have assailed such laws as a blatant attempt to suppress voter participation.
Legal action was quickly filed by Democratic attorney Marc Elias on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida, Black Voters Matters Fund, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and individual voters.
The suit alleges the law “does not impede all of Florida’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 voteby-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,” it said.