Updated: May 13
On Thursday May 6th Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 90 at a ceremony that banned all media with the exception of Fox News – a fitting start to this authoritarian and anti-democratic legislation.
Senate Bill 90 presents “solutions” to nonexistent problems and is based on the “Big Lie” that elections need to be made more secure. Rather than making voting more accessible and safer, this bill will have a chilling effect on voter registration, voting by mail, and the ability of local elections officials to do their jobs.
This is nothing more than a GOP power grab that will weaken our Democracy and it’s happening all across the country. Senate Bill 90 is just one of 360+ similar bills that have been introduced in 43 states. Thankfully the Florida League of Women Voters, Black Voters Matter, Florida’s Alliance for Retired Americans and Democracy Docket have filed suit in Federal Court to keep the Bill from becoming law.
Here are some of the provisions in the Bill:
This is an unfunded mandate that will require Supervisors of Elections (SOE’s) to literally throw away thousands of forms and create new ones; make changes to their websites; and use a new system to report election results.
Not only is no money provided for these changes, SB90 prohibits private donors from making donations to SOE’s to help them with these costs. In the 2020 election, multiple private donors helped SOE’s with the cost of personal protective equipment, postage for VBM ballot request forms and drop boxes.
This Bill limits the SOE’s ability to enter consent decrees, which are basically agreements created by the courts to resolve disputes – they now must go through the state legislature before signing on to a consent decree.
Organizations like the Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters who do voter registration are required to tell voters that if we don’t turn their forms in on time to the SOE, their voter registration will be invalid.
Fines will be imposed on organizations which conduct voter registration if they turn voter registration forms in late and if they send forms to the wrong county.
Voters must provide “identity” information to sign up for vote-by-mail (VBM) in the form of a Florida Drivers License, ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. In the past, all that was required was name, address, and birthday.
Vote-by-mail requests must be renewed every general election cycle. They used to last for 2 general election cycles or 4 years.
The law says state and local governments are not allowed to send a voter a mail-in ballot unless the voter has requested one. In 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic, some officials around the country sent out mail-in ballots to registered voters without requiring a request.
The new law eliminates the previous requirement that an election be held to replace a local official who resigns to run for another office. Under the new law, the governor gets the power to fill these "resign-to-run" vacancies.
The number of VBM ballots a person can return for a friend or acquaintance is limited to 2.
VBM drop boxes must be in an location where they are monitored.
We'll be keeping an eye on the Federal lawsuit, and looking for ways to minimize the negative impacts of this horrible legislation.