Florida law banning felons from casting ballots aims 'to deny and deter voting': WaPo Editorial Board

Florida law banning felons from casting ballots aims 'to deny and deter voting': WaPo Editorial Board
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Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis last week touted his creation of the Office of Election Crimes and Security and its arrests of twenty felons who were suspected of voting fraudulently in the 2020 election.

"If you commit an elections crime, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.

Floridians in 2018 approved a ballot measure that granted voting rights to people who had previously been incarcerated. Exceptions were made for perpetrators of murder and sex crimes.

READ MORE: Florida law discriminates against Black voters to gain 'partisan advantage': DOJ filing

On Monday, The Washington Post Editorial Board tore into DeSantis over his flouting of the public's will.

"These are the first cases brought by the state’s new election police force — and a clear effort to deter legitimate voting," the Board wrote. "Yet the tiny number of cases brought so far underscores the paucity of voter fraud. For perspective, this is 20 arrests out of 11 million Floridians who cast ballots in 2020, though Mr. DeSantis called it 'the opening salvo' and said the office continues to investigate."

DeSantis "undermined" his state's electorate, the editors stated, "signing a law in 2019 that moved the goal posts by requiring felons to pay off any money owed in fines and fees before registering to vote, with the punishment for not doing so being another felony."

The biggest problem, the Board noted, is that "there’s no centralized tracking system for either citizens or elections officials to check. All 67 counties and various state agencies maintain their own databases."

READ MORE: Florida newspaper slams 'dictatorial' Ron DeSantis over 'legally suspect' state attorney suspension

It asserted that "Mr. DeSantis’s broader goal is clear: to deny and deter voting," adding that the presence of armed police officers at DeSantis' press conference – "was held in a public courtroom" – added another disturbing layer to the controversial law.

Furthermore, the editors continued, "DeSantis didn’t name the 20 people who were arrested, but he said most were from the heavily Democratic counties of Palm, Broward and Miami-Dade. The governor did not hold a news conference when four people who live in a GOP-dominated retirement community were arrested earlier this year for attempting to cast multiple ballots."

DeSantis, the Board pointed out, is "plainly" courting former President Donald Trump's supporters in his 2022 reelection bid and potentially for a 2024 Republican presidential primary campaign.

Consequently, DeSantis' law imperils the future of democracy in Florida.

"How many of these 20 defendants understood they were breaking the law? Perhaps they mistakenly believed that the 2018 ballot measure permitted them to register," the editors posited in their conclusion, warning that "more significant is the chilling effect this will have on formerly incarcerated people who legitimately have the right to vote but may now be afraid to take the risk they’ll get charged on technicalities or because of unpaid debt they don’t know about."

Also on Monday, DeSantis was heckled in Miami by protesters who called him a "coward and a tyrant."

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE Why Ron DeSantis is stumping for election deniers in key swing states: report

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