The US MP and gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist has his nationwide voting rights tour Tuesday morning in Tampa surrounded by local elected officials and community leaders discussing the efforts of Florida’s GOP leadership wants to introduce stricter voting regulations.
The group, hosted by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Tampa, also included another congresswoman Kathy Castor, State representative Dianne Hart and former Pinellas District Commissioner Ken Welch, who is also a St. Petersburg mayor candidate. The elected officials were joined by labor rights leaders, disability advocates and other community activists.
“I am very humble and honored to be here this morning with all of you who work every day to make sure that people have a voice in the face of some very obstructive tactics,” said Castor. “I think we now understand that this is a national plan to suppress the vote, to restrict it.”
The discussion centered on the effects of new electoral laws on minority communities. Specifically, the panelists focused on the effect of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recently signed Electoral law (SB 90). This move, which came into effect when DeSantis was signed, includes much of its plan to establish postal voting and electoral administration laws, what one legislature called “guard rails”.
“What we see from Tallahassee is honestly appalling,” said Crist. “This is building roadblocks to democracy – it’s anti-democracy what they’re doing; it’s anti-senior what they do; Anti-Disabled What They Do. It’s just fundamentally wrong. “
Part of the law limits the number of ballots a person can cast. People could cast an immediate family member’s ballot, including those of their grandparents. It also allows citizens to carry two other ballot papers in addition to their own and immediate family members.
But at the round table on Tuesday, the advocate of disability rights campaigned Laura–lee Minutello Emphasized the impact these new standards can have on the community with disabilities, in particular by limiting the number of ballots a person can put in a mailbox and limiting them to a number of family members.
“It’s not that you can just say, ‘I have time now to put the ballot,'” she said. “Not everyone has a supervisor who can do this for them.”
The bill also extends the non-solicitation zone to include polling stations and a ban on the distribution of items, including food and drink, with the intention of influencing voters’ opinions.
“We have a great electoral system in Florida, and what the legislature has really done is undermine people’s trust in the system,” Welch said.
The new restrictions will also further restrict mail-in polls and dropboxing by requiring Ballot boxes may only be used and occupied during the pre-election times. This can affect the ability of certain employees to choose Talmadge Andrews with the SEIU said at the meeting, especially those who may have two jobs and usually use mailboxes or postal ballot papers to vote.
“It is hard for working people to have time,” said Andrews.
Republicans who support the bill argue that there are multiple ways to vote in Florida, making it difficult not to vote, and the legislation offers protection. However, the measure was criticized by Democrats, who described the bill as an act of voter suppression and compared it to “Jim Crow 2.0”.
DeSantis signed the electoral law on May 6 and was immediately criticized for its approach. The governor put the law into effect behind closed doors as an on-air exclusive on Fox News. Media, with the exception of the conservative news giant, were not allowed at the rally, Request Complaints from Democrats and reporters. Crist too quickly criticized DeSantis for the move.
After the Tampa meeting, the congressman plans to Trip to Orlando on Tuesday. Then, for the rest of the week, he’ll hit Tallahassee, West Palm Beach, Broward County, Miami, and Gainesville.