The Republican-led House of Representatives has taken up the controversial election integrity bill SB 90 —the measure that prohibits ballot drop boxes and ballot harvesting —and House Democrats have responded in the debate by painting the measure as racist and a modern day Jim Crow Law.
The vote passed in the House by a vote count of 77 to 40.
During the debate of the bill, Republican House members argued against the widely propagated narrative that Republicans were pushing for voter suppression, especially against minority communities, and made their case that this bill would protect the integrity of Florida’s election process.
For House Democrats, their argument was solely based on the existing racial divide, accusing Republicans of racism, echoing what Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) said in calling the bill a retread of the segregationist Jim Crow Laws.
Rep. Fentrice Driscoll (D) was one of a handful of House Democrats who have stated that ALL Americans are in favor of ballot drop boxes, citing a recent Economist/YouGov poll.
While Rep. Driscoll said that most Americans support drop boxes, she failed to mention that more Democrats were polled than Republicans. According to the poll, 33% were Democrats, while only 26% were Republicans.
The theme Black Hosue Democrats held was that they were at the back of the room, or bus, and that bill sponsors and supporters were all at the front of the room.
“Sometimes I feel I’m at the back of the room, at the back of the bus,” Rep. Ramon Alexander (D)
Rep. Michele Rayner (D) said that Republicans “are actively trying to suppress the right to vote.”
Progressive Rep. Anna Eskamani said that the Republican argument was “unfortunately based on national lies” and invoked Jim Crow laws, saying, “we have a dark history of Jim Crow in this state, in this country, lets’ keep that in the past.”
“Let my people vote,” proclaimed Rep. Dotie Joseph.
“If you walk in the skin that I’m, it’s a difference,” said Rep. Patricia Williams. “And according to what I’m looking at in this bill, it deters people of color from voting. Number one, because we work more. We have more people living in home (sic) with us, so the number of ballots we can drop off, it deters us…I live the skin that I’m in.”
Rep. Geraldine Thompson compared the bill to the treatment of animals, saying that “the bill that would treat animals better than voters,” adding that the bill treated Black Americans “worse than we would treat a dog.”
Rep.Bobby Dubose (D), who is running for the U.S. Congress to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings, said that this bill was part of “national narrative” Republicans were pushing, before asking the entire chamber not to “dismiss the cry that you hear from the back, especially from those” that look like him.
Republicans like Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka said that the election integrity bill was an “insurance policy that Floridians deserve” to protect the election system before saying that she has witnessed ballot harvesting first hand in her city of Fort Myers.
Conservative State Rep. Anthony Sabatini says, “the bill is a good step in the direction of election integrity,” adding, “there is still much work to do. Lawless democrats will vote against this bill and every other attempt to bring certainty to our elections process.”