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Sprinkles from the Left

Commentators on the left portray the GOP-backed election bills as an attempt to suppress absentee and minority voting. Many also contend that the bills are a direct reaction to Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, and are a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist (namely, widespread voter fraud).

“Current law bans the practice of paid ballot harvesting but is silent on a volunteer hand-delivering a vote-by-mail ballot on behalf of a friend, neighbor or family member, such as how I helped my grandmother. HB 7041 adds more paperwork and verification steps for both any volunteer dropping off ballots and the person attempting to vote, requiring a form, signed by both the volunteer and the voter, indicating that the volunteer is allowed to drop off the ballot.

These extra steps are ridiculous and do nothing but add unnecessary barriers to voting. The bill only applies to vote-by-mail ballots that are hand-delivered, not those delivered through the mail, failing to consider the large number of people, like my grandmother, who are forced to request a vote-by-mail ballot when they find themselves in a hospital, rehabilitation facility or similar situation. This bill, as written, creates needless administrative hurdles for people who are sick, injured or otherwise homebound.

I wholeheartedly support secure elections. But we already have the tools we need to ensure that absentee ballots are counted correctly. The confusing, cumbersome and unfair process contemplated in HB 7041 is a solution in search of a problem. For these reasons and many more, I will not be supporting this bill, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

FL State Rep. Dan Daley (D); Florida Sun-Sentinel

“The [Florida] bill limits drop boxes: Mobile drop boxes are prohibited; local elections supervisors must staff all drop boxes and allow them to be used only during early voting hours. Supervisors who allow dropped ballots outside those hours can be fined $25,000.

It adds hurdles to vote by mail: Voters must reapply for mail ballots every two years, rather than the four years in the present law. Thankfully, this requirement won’t start immediately, as bill sponsor Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, originally proposed. That would have instantly stripped millions of Floridians of their mail ballot requests, with many not even knowing it.

It prohibits any actions that could influence people standing in line to vote. This provision is likely to discourage nonpartisan groups from offering food or water to voters as they wait in the hot sun — in lines which, thanks to the bill’s other complications, are likely to be longer.

These actions and more, including tighter limits on who may turn in mailed ballots, are obviously aimed at curbing the voting power of young people and people of color — an uneasy echo of the Jim Crow era’s ugly efforts to keep Black people from the ballot box.“

Editorial Board, Palm Beach Post (Published in The Gainesville Sun)

“DeSantis has taken every opportunity to suppress voting rights. From his efforts to stop Amendment 4’s implementation, to his opposition to major changes to clemency rules — the governor’s actions have blocked hundreds of thousands of Floridians from regaining their right to vote…

We’ve seen the same actions to consolidate power and silence media in countries like Cuba and Nicaragua, where Castro oversaw a rewrite of the constitution and Maduro has consistently silenced and undermined the independent press.

And while the governor condemns the leaders of these countries, his actions speak louder than his words. DeSantis has been pulling from the authoritarian playbook — suppressing votes and opponents, attacking the media and clamping down on constitutional rights.

Under DeSantis’ “regime,” if you don’t support him or his party, he wants to stop you from voting.”

FL Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, Miami Herald

Sprinkles from the Right

Commentators on the Right portray the new election laws as codifying some of the procedural changes brought on by the pandemic. Many also contend that the bills will prevent potential problems that have cropped up in other states, and are necessary to restore public confidence in election security.

“In a season of recriminations over election procedures, Florida stood out as an exemplar… Florida governor Ron DeSantis, however, is not content to rest on his laurels. He’s proposing a series of reforms to head off problems that have cropped up in other states.

DeSantis would ban ballot harvesting by prohibiting anyone but a voter’s family from handling his or her absentee ballot — protecting the ballot secrecy that we take for granted in the voting booth. He would prohibit mass-mailing of unrequested mail-in ballots, tighten signature requirements, keep ballot dropboxes under the supervision of polling places, and limit no-excuses mail-in voting to prioritize in-person voting, where Florida law already requires voter ID.

DeSantis would also beef up the state’s already-impressive transparency regime to publish an accurate tally during the count of how many ballots remain outstanding — a way to create more confidence around the process and lessen suspicions about surprise “vote dumps.” And he would ensure that observers cannot be banned from watching the signature-verification process…

Republicans should not be hostile to every effort to make voting easier, but neither should they be cowed by knee-jerk Democratic accusations of “voter suppression.” Florida offers a good blueprint for protecting the integrity of the vote and making the process more transparent without making voting unreasonably difficult.”

Editorial Board, National Review

“Across the country, state legislatures are performing their constitutional duty, passing reforms to improve election procedures that worked well this past election, while addressing those that did not…

[T]he left’s goal in fighting these commonsense proposals is to institutionalize the unorthodox and less-secure voting procedures used during the height of the COVID challenge and make them the new norm for a post-pandemic America. Such measures include automatic registration of voters, doing away with any kind of verification that voters are who they say they are, all while pushing a massive expansion of mail-in ballots. The result will be elections that are less fair and free, in perception and reality…

Opponents of the [Georgia] law who are ignorant of its contents have also expressed unbridled outrage at Georgia’s voter ID requirement for absentee vote-by-mail ballots, which has registrars confirm the identity of an absentee voter by comparing identification card numbers rather than signatures. This less subjective approach, combined with the cost and availability of Georgia voter ID cards (they are free and available to all) makes this approach far more sensible and, more importantly, accurate. Yet even if it didn’t, the law also provides alternative forms of identification that can be used if obtaining the free voter ID card proves too difficult.”

Chase Martin, The Federalist

“The only thing more infuriating than Major League Baseball’s unprecedented decision to punish Georgians over their state’s recent election law has been the national media’s dedication to lying about what the law says and does.

Since the bill was signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25, we have heard from the media about how the bill would supposedly outlaw providing food and water to people standing in line to vote…

The truth is: Georgia’s new election law has expanded opportunities to vote in that state. The law standardized the use of secure voting drop boxes (they were only allowed in emergencies under prior law). It expanded early voting (both in days and hours) – including mandatory weekend voting for people who work weekday hours (contrary to the lies President Biden has been repeating).

Simply put: Georgia’s new election law has made it easier to vote – but harder to cheat.”

Newt Gingrich, Fox News