RNC and NRSC join legal fray over controversial new Florida election law
TALLAHASSEE – Republicans are racing to defend Florida’s newly passed election law, which Democrats and a range of voting and civil rights groups criticize as unconstitutional.
The Republican National Committee and the Republican National Senate Committee on Thursday tabled motions to intervene in two separate federal lawsuits that were filed in Tallahassee.
RNC President Ronna McDaniel, using the same talking point adopted by law-defending Florida GOP officials, said in a statement that “recent electoral reforms in Florida have one simple goal: to make voting easier and more difficult to cheat. ”
Florida Sen. Rick scott, who is president of the NRSC, argued that critics lie about the effect of the law.
“The lawsuits brought by the radical leftists in Florida have no basis in fact,” Scott said in a statement. “They are part of the Democrats’ big lie – that any effort to ensure the integrity of our elections is racist. This is a lie and the NRSC is proud to stand with the RNC in my home state to defend this common sense law and fight the Democrats’ lies.
Democrats fiercely denounced the Florida law itself in response to former President Donald Trump’s baseless claim that there was widespread electoral fraud linked to the 2020 presidential election. They also argued that the changes included in the legislation (SB 90) will have a disproportionate impact on minority voters as well as on the elderly and disabled.
Florida had one of its smoothest elections in two decades last November, but the GOP-controlled Florida legislature passed a bill that placed new restrictions on mail-in ballots, including limits on the use of ballot boxes; and a two-round limit on many ballots that someone could collect and deliver on behalf of elderly or sick and disabled voters. The legislation was pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who announced he signed the bill at an event designed for television on Fox News, to which other media were excluded.
Florida lawmakers initially proposed even tougher measures, but withdrew from some of them after weeks of criticism, including from local Democratic and Republican election officials.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Florida has seen an increase in the number of mail-in ballots and nearly 44% of those who voted in the 2020 presidential election did not vote in person. About 1.5 million of those mail-in ballots were placed in drop boxes, allowing voters to bypass the postal service and deliver them directly to election officials.
There are now three separate federal lawsuits that have been filed in Tallahassee by various groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, and Disability Rights Florida. The latest lawsuit was filed earlier this week by several groups including the Hispanic Federation and Poder Latinx.
“SB 90 has absolutely nothing to do with electoral integrity and everything to do with the distribution of red meat to the base of the previous administration which falsely and dangerously claims that there was electoral fraud.” Giulianna Di Lauro, Florida State Director for Poder Latinx said earlier this week. “Limiting the hours that the ballot boxes are open and increasing the measures on how the ballots can be delivered will only deter people from voting and increase the lines at polling stations. These restrictions are even more damaging to Latinx, Black and Brown, and working class voters who work irregular hours and rely on their communities for help casting the ballots.
The Republicans’ motion to intervene argues that they should be allowed to join the trial because of Florida’s “crucial 2022 election,” including the race for the United States Senate and governor, and that “their interests may be irreparably harmed by an order exceeding Florida electoral rules. “