WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an elections bill into law on Thursday in an event closed to all local news reporters.
DeSantis spoke to the hosts of Fox & Friends remotely from the Hilton by the Palm Beach International Airport on Thursday morning. Members of local news outlets were not allowed inside and the governor’s staff called the event a “Fox News exclusive.”
“Florida took action this legislative session to increase transparency and strengthen the security of our elections,” Gov. DeSantis said in a statement released after the bill was signed. “Floridians can rest assured that our state will remain a leader in ballot integrity. Elections should be free and fair, and these changes will ensure this continues to be the case in the Sunshine State.”
The League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matter Fund and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans announced shortly after the bill signing that they had filed a lawsuit challenging the law.
“The legislation has a deliberate and disproportionate impact on elderly voters, voters with disabilities, students and communities of color,” League of Women Voters of Florida President Patricia Brigham said in a statement. “It’s a despicable attempt by a one party ruled legislature to choose who can vote in our state and who cannot. It’s undemocratic, unconstitutional, and un-American.”
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund followed suit shortly after and filed a federal lawsuit in response to the bill.
“The law’s suppressive and discriminatory provisions make it clear that the Florida Legislature’s goal is to erect additional hurdles to inhibit Florida voters, especially disabled voters, Black voters, and Latino voters, from accessing the ballot box,” LDF Assistant Counsel Zachery Morris said in a statement. “These efforts are shameful and they are not new. We cannot allow elected officials to suppress votes under the guise of election integrity.”
The Florida legislature passed the election bill last week. It includes measures that would restrict the use of drop boxes and vote-by-mail. DeSantis first proposed the bill in February despite a successful November 2020 election in the Sunshine State.
Republicans who support the legislation say it’s additional security for elections, but Democrats believe it complicates the state’s voting process.
Elections supervisors in Tampa Bay have said they believe the legislation will make voting by mail more difficult. Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said the state should look at ways to make drop boxes more secure, such as adding camera surveillance 24 hours a day. He said the new law does the opposite, prohibiting it.
Pinellas County Elections Supervisor Julie Marcus, a Republican, also voiced concerns earlier this year saying the changes would let partisan actors challenge votes and endlessly delay election results.