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Legal, political experts weigh in on new elections reform and subsequent lawsuit

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Posted at 9:01 PM, May 06, 2021

After a partisan battle in the Florida legislature, Governor Ron Desantis signed major elections reform into law. It's already facing legal challenges. Now, legal and political experts weigh in on what could happen in the courtroom and what this means for future elections.

"I think you just don't know what the impact is going to be," ABC Action News political analyst Dr. Susan Macmanus said.

She believes it's too early to tell how sweeping reforms could affect Florida voters for better or for worse, but she could say with certainty there will be budget discussions.

"The one that's the most difficult for [supervisors of elections] to gauge right now is how much is it going to cost to staff up to be able to do all of these things," she said.

Just minutes after Governor DeSantis signed the bill into law, several advocacy groups filed an injunction, hoping to put a stop to it. Dr. Macmanus says what's happening with voter reform in U.S. Congress contributed to where attorneys filed the lawsuit.

"That's exactly why it was bought in federal court," Dr. Macmanus said. "You have to have a hook into federal constitution. And of course the voting rights act deals with the 14th amendment."

And those groups filing the lawsuit could get reinforcements.

"I would not be surprised to see a number of lawsuits filed by the department of justice against States who are pulling back on voters' rights," WMU-Cooley Law School professor Jeff Swartz said.

Swartz also say who those groups are suing could pose a problem.

"Every single supervisor of elections is named as defendants because the injunctions would apply to them. So that's where we may run into some issues. That's where there is not unanimity," he said.

Swartz says those looking to uphold the law will more than likely try to discredit those advocacy groups.

"The issue is going to be standing. Do these groups of these people actually have standing to bring this suit," Swartz said. "That's going to be the big attack from the state of Florida saying these people don't have standing. 'They're not voters. They haven't had their votes suppressed. So why are they raising this issue?'"

From Washington D.C. to Tallahassee, election reform is a hot button issue. Dr. Macmanus says although it's highly politicized, it's not abnormal.

"Everybody's always looking for ways to keep the next worst thing from happening," she said.

ABC Action News did reach out to a few supervisors of elections in the Bay Area to get their take on the new law. Some simply said they were not available, but one told us they could not speak due to pending litigation.