WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida's elections reform bill into law on Thursday morning and minutes later a lawsuit was filed alleging the new law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
DeSantis signed SB90, which includes restrictions on voting by mail and ballot drop boxes.
The bill-signing event, which was closed to local media and took place live on Fox News, was held at the Hilton by Palm Beach International Airport.
When asked about the signing later at a news conference in Panama City Beach, DeSantis said he was proud to have signed the bill on national television.
"We were happy to give them the exclusive on that and I think it went really really well," DeSantis said. "That's broadcast to millions of people."
DeSantis added that while it was broadcast across the country, a "huge number" of Floridians watch the broadcast.
“Florida took action this legislative session to increase transparency and strengthen the security of our elections,” Governor Ron DeSantis said, according to a press release. "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."
Minutes after the bill was signed, Democracy Docket filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the new law's drop-box restrictions, vote-by-mail repeat request requirement, volunteer assistance ban, deceptive registration warning and food and water ban violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
🆕🚨ALERT: MINUTES after Florida’s Republican governor signed voter suppression bill #SB90 into law, @LWVFlorida, @BlackVotersMtr, and Florida @ActiveRetirees sued in federal court.— Democracy Docket (@DemocracyDocket) May 6, 2021
Read the full complaint here⤵️https://t.co/d8BxavLkbn
Read the full lawsuit below:
The League of Women Voters of Florida, Black Voters Matter Fund and Florida Alliance for Retired Americans are among the lawsuit's plaintiffs.
In a press release, the League of Women Voters of Florida's President Patricia Brigham said the new law is "undemocratic, unconstitutional, and un-American."
“The League of Women Voters of Florida has fought SB 90 since its introduction, and we’re continuing our fight now,” said Brigham. “The legislation has a deliberate and disproportionate impact on elderly voters, voters with disabilities, students and communities of color. 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.”
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who recently announced his own candidacy for the governor's mansion, called out DeSantis for barring media from the signing.
This is the difference between @GovRonDeSantis and me. He locks out the public and caters to FOX News. When I was Governor, everyone was invited in — Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. And when I'm Governor again, this will be a Florida for all. https://t.co/o7IuDJaYAN— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) May 6, 2021
While an earlier proposal of the elections bill would have banned the use of ballot drop boxes outright, the new legislation allows their use as long as election officials follow new constraints — limits on who could drop off voters' ballots at drop boxes, a ban on moving drop boxes within 30 days of elections, restrictions on where drop boxes could be placed and a requirement that they would all have to be monitored by elections officials whenever they're open.
The new law also requires voters to request to vote by mail more regularly, prohibits election officials from using private money to help pay for election administration, restricts third-party voter registration organizations, adds new powers for partisan election observers and gives DeSantis the leeway to appoint replacements to fill certain local political positions vacated by people running for higher office.
The full bill text can be seen below: