Get ready for Florida Republicans to ramp up their voter suppression campaign: columnist

Get ready for Florida Republicans to ramp up their voter suppression campaign: columnist

From Georgia to Iowa, Republicans have been preparing for the 2022 midterms by aggressively pushing voter suppression measures. And South Florida Sun Sentinel opinion writer Steve Bousquet, in his February 27 column, points to Florida as a state where Republicans are hoping to maintain control and suppress Democratic turnout by making it as difficult as possible to vote.

"With Democrats in charge in Washington, federal legislation to make it easier to vote — H.R. 1, For the People Act — has a better chance to pass," Bousquet observes. "Republicans, out of power in D.C., must use a state-by-state strategy to restrict voting. Florida is a huge battleground. Just watch."

At the federal level, Republicans suffered major disappointments in 2018 and 2020. Democrats now control the White House and both branches of Congress. But in Florida, Republicans have prevailed in some key races.

Gov. Ron DeSantis narrowly defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum in 2018. Sen. Rick Scott won Florida's 2018 U.S. Senate race. Although now-President Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump carried the Sunshine State. And Florida Republicans, according to Bousquet, want to make sure that Democrats don't gain control of the state government.

"Even though Florida Republicans had a very successful election in 2020, they want to impose new restrictions on voting next year, when Gov. Ron DeSantis faces reelection," Bousquet explains. "They see the numbers and worry that way, way too many Democrats are voting by mail."

Bousquet notes some of the voter suppression methods in Florida, reporting, "The Republican strategy includes repealing a law that makes mail ballot requests valid for two election cycles and requiring many voters to apply a second time for mail ballots in 2022. The GOP also may demand in-person security at remote drop boxes and allow case-by-case challenges to verification of signatures on mail ballot envelopes. The latest wrinkle is for Republicans to portray county supervisors as tools of liberal out-of-state billionaires."

Bousquet adds that in Florida, "an overhaul of voting by mail, drop boxes, signature verification and other issues" are "designed to influence whether you vote next time." And one of the Florida Democrats who is sounding the alarm is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

According to Schultz, Republicans "got their clock cleaned in mail ballot turnout. They can only win when they manufacture their electorate."

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