Prior to the 2020 presidential election, which was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans across the nation were afforded ample time to register vote, request an Absentee Ballot, vote early, or go out and vote on election day.
But the pandemic temporarily changed how states conducted their respective elections, as many of these states decided to impose vote-by-mail initiative to large groups of voters, regardless if they applied for an absentee ballot.
Now with the pandemic almost in the rearview mirror, and with the 2022 mid-term election cycle right around the corner, Florida Democrats like Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, are trying to keep the questionable and controversial ballot drop boxes and the practice of sending out mass mail-in ballots.
On Thursday, Commissioner Fried and a group of Black legislators, along with Sen. Annette Taddeo (D), joined Black Pastors to voice their opposition to Republican Senator Dennis Baxley’s SB 90, a measure that would restrict “vote-by-mail registration to just one election cycle and eliminate vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes.”
Sen. Baxley’s bill calls for everyone that wants to receive a mail-in ballot must reapply every year.
Here is how the summary of SB 90 reads:
Election Administration; Limiting the duration of requests for vote-by-mail ballots to all elections through the end of the calendar year of the next regularly scheduled general election; requiring vote-by-mail ballot requests to include additional identifying information regarding the requesting elector; prohibiting the display of an absent elector’s party affiliation or other partisan information on the outside of vote-by-mail ballots and return and secrecy envelopes; prohibiting the use of drop boxes for the return of vote-by-mail ballots, et.
Fried equates the bill to “voter suppression” and that “Republicans in the Florida Legislature are doing everything they can to turn back time — to a place where people didn’t have the right to vote, didn’t have access to the ballot box. We have to fight voter suppression everywhere, every time.”
Fried and other state and federally elected Democratic legislators, like Rep. Stephanie Murphy, have tagged this bill and other similar bills as nothing more than a play against Black voters,
Playing the race card appears to be what Florida Democrats do best, as other state legislators like Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, seem to revert to pulling out their race cards at just about every political turn.
You don’t support transgender women competing in women’s sports?
You’re a racist.
You don’t want to drop off ballet boxes?
You’re a racist.
You want to go after criminal rioters?
You’re a racist.
Here is what Fried said:
What this bill does is silence those voices. This bill does nothing good but harm and silence the people who need a voice at the table. We must stand together united to fight voter suppression. Too many people in our history have marched, have fought, and have lost their lives to give us the right to vote today.
And now, this Legislature is doing everything they can to suppress those votes and to turn back time – to a time and place when people didn’t have the right to vote, didn’t have access to the ballot box, and we must stand united to fight this. This is voter suppression, because they don’t want to hear from the people. And we see this time and time again in the [Capitol] building behind us – that when the people vote, they don’t even listen.
So we now need to stand together to expand voting access, to make sure more and more people have that right to vote – because this is fundamental of our democracy. To hear from the people, and to make sure that they are electing the people that represent them.
We as elected officials are their proxy, and I take that very seriously. And so, on behalf of the citizens of our state, the people want to vote.
We’ve got to make sure that we are fighting this, and that we are standing up – and as the Reverend said, if they don’t listen, then we vote them out.