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Suncoast election supervisors react recent election reform bill

Updated: May. 8, 2021 at 12:07 AM EDT
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MANATEE/SARASOTA COUNTIES. (WWSB) -Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an elections overhaul bill Thursday that has already prompted a lawsuit by voter rights groups that say the new law will make it harder for citizens to vote. Florida joins other states as Georgia, Iowa and Montana in enacting restrictive voting laws.

The League of Women Voters of Florida announced earlier this week they filed a suit to nullify the law, which they say is a broad attempt at voter suppression.

“We don’t believe senate bill 90 should have ever been filed as a bill,” said League of Women Voters of Florida President Patricia Brigham.

At the same time, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, Disability Rights Florida and Common Cause filed a separate federal lawsuit alleging that bill is unconstitutional and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Brigham said SB-90 specifically violates the 1st and 14th amendments, along with a broad spectrum of people.

“The elderly, the disabled, students, communities of color are going to be disenfranchised,” said Brigham. “There are things in here that will restrict access to voting.”

The bill limits the use of drop boxes, It would restrict their placement at early voting sites and “permanent” branch offices, so long as the boxes are staffed by their employees. Among other changes, the bill will require voters to request mail-in ballots more frequently than before.

On the local level, Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett said this bill does suppress votes, but is not a “voter suppression bill”. He said the signing of SB-90 will make it harder for some people to vote which will affect voter turnout.

“You might see people maybe not show up at the polls regularly because you got used to the convenience of voting by mail,” said Bennett.

Bennett said this isn’t the only thing that will be affected, It will also run a price tag for the county which he says would be around $200,000-300,000.

“It’s going to add additional costs because of the remailing that we’re going to have to do and notifying everybody,” said Bennett.

ABC7 reached out to the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner, he released a statement saying:

“SB90 became effective immediately upon the governor’s signature. Our office is currently working to update any processes and procedures affected by the new state election laws. As always, my staff and I are happy to assist voters and answer any questions from the public regarding voter registration or election-related laws.”

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