Florida Republicans Introduce New Georgia-Inspired Voter Dehydration Law
Georgia Republicans passed a terrible voter suppression law last week, and Florida Republicans are apparently jealous because they want to pass their own terrible voter suppression law. It seems like a lot of extra work for a state without a Stacey Abrams. Former President Loser won Florida last year, ending the state's six-election streak of supporting the winning candidate. Florida's current senators are Rick Scott and Marco Rubio. You'd think Republicans could trust that Floridians will continue making bad choices, but they're not leaving anything to chance.
Republicans are advancing bills that would restrict mail-in voting, which the former White House squatter claims is cursed or something like that. He never diluted his lies with facts.
The state Senate has proposed a bill that would ban the use of drop boxes, which allow voters to turn in their mail-in ballots directly to election offices instead of using the U.S. Postal Service. The Senate bill would also force all voters to resubmit vote-by-mail requests for the 2022 elections while at the same time limiting the duration of future requests.
[Top state House Republican Rep. Blaise Ingoglia's] legislation would keep drop boxes in place, but it would require voters dropping off ballots to present identification in order to use them. The measure would also limit who can drop off a ballot to an immediate family member or someone who lives at the same address.
Like their Georgia counterparts, Republican vote suppressors in Florida are pushing their efforts past the point of plausible deniability. Georgia's Jim Crow Reloaded law bans anyone from providing water to people waiting in line to vote. Even South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham admitted that this rule didn't “make a lot of sense" to him before he shifted to his personal Purge fantasies. GOP strategist Josh Holmes lied to Chris Wallace about the rule Sunday, insisting the law as written applied only to political organizations (it does not). The backlash was clear. Georgia Republicans had overreached, and the grossest but arguably less effective part of the law is drawing undesired attention and mobilizing the opposition.
So, naturally, Florida Republicans want to prohibit “outside groups" from giving food or water to voters standing within 150 feet of polling places. Georgia's law won't let you offer food or drink "within 25 feet of any voter of voter standing in line to vote at any polling place." Rep. Blaise Ingoglia defended the measure this week, arguing that Florida law already provides for a "no-solicitation zone" near polling places. “This law has always been the law" is what people say when they're ramming through a new, terrible law.
"It's influencing the vote and that's what we are trying to stop because they are a captive audience," Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill), the bill sponsor and the former chair of the Republican Party of Florida, said at a hearing Monday. "The 150 feet area is supposed to be a safe zone where they are not going to be bothered by a campaign."
OK, this is just rich when you consider that conservatives have argued for decades that assholes have a constitutional right to harass women outside abortion clinics. In 2014, when the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts buffer zone law, Chief Justice Roberts wrote:
[The buffer zones] impose serious burdens on petitioners' speech, depriving them of their two primary methods of communicating with arriving patients: close, personal conversations and distribution of literature.
Roberts believed it was a “serious burden" on anti-choice zealots if they couldn't get up close and personal with someone who's made a personal choice that doesn't concern them. Roberts gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 so he was on a streak of awful during Barack Obama's second term.
Republicans might legitimately believe the line outside a polling place isn't an appropriate location to discuss politics. It's not Thanksgiving dinner at your aunt's. What's laughable on its face, though, is the assertion that offering Southern hospitality to people in line, regardless of their politics, is “influencing the vote." Can chips and a drink really flip someone's vote? Even if you upgrade to Perrier and organic Kettle chips, the cash value is still less than $5. Not even Marco Rubio's that cheap a date.
Ingoglia appreciates that people get thirsty while waiting in absurdly long lines to vote, and he fully supports local election supervisors handing out water to people if they want (emphasis on “if" here)
"I just think it should be a function of the government," he said.
Big government doling out free water? Maybe healthcare's next. Once Florida's done suppressing the vote, everyone will be a socialist.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."