Florida Taxpayers May Pay Millions To Defend New Election Law
ORLANDO, Florida – Florida taxpayers risk paying millions of dollars in legal fees as the state defends its latest election law.
Governor Ron DeSantis enacted Senate Bill 90 on May 6 in an exclusive ceremony televised nationally on Fox News. The governor’s office banned local media from attending.
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“I, signing this bill here, say, ‘Florida, your vote counts,’” the governor said at the event.
“It was a Republican effort to show Donald Trump that they are doing something in response to his claims that ‘hey, the election was rigged’,” said Jim Clark, political expert at News 6.
DeSantis called the bill the state’s “new electoral integrity bill,” which, among other things, requires voters to provide additional identification when they change their registration, prohibits the mass mailing of postal ballots and banned private money from the electoral process.
But within minutes of signing it, lawsuits were filed in federal court.
The Hispanic Federation, League of Voters and NAACP challenged SB 90 in legal briefs.
All three lawsuits claim the law has a disproportionate impact on minority communities by limiting where and when ballot boxes can be used and by limiting who can help return mail ballots.
Jade Ford is a lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center, a national voting watch and advocacy body.
She said defending the law would cost taxpayers a lot of money.
“It’s definitely going to cost Florida taxpayers money,” she said. “It’s because the state insists on defending these illegal voter suppression laws in court with lawyers who are going to cost money. “
“We’re talking millions of dollars,” Clark said. “A lot of lawyers are going to get very rich because of this. “
Clark and Ford said it was impossible to determine exactly how much taxpayer money would be spent, but Texas’ legal battle over its voter identification law could be one indicator.
The state of Texas has faced five lawsuits challenging a law signed in 2011.
When they were settled, taxpayers had spent over $ 3.5 million.
News 6 contacted the Florida attorney general’s office and a spokesperson said they had not retained an outside lawyer and were choosing to handle the prosecutions internally.
Orange County Election Supervisor Bill Cowles, who is named in one of the lawsuits, said he had a warrant attorney, but if hearings start to be scheduled, the price could go up.
SB 90 is not the only new law challenged by a lawsuit.
The new law to censor social media platforms also faces a challenge.
Clark said he expects these cases to drag on for years in the court system, with some of them possibly going to the United States Supreme Court for a final decision.
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