Trial over restrictive new Florida voting laws

FLORIDIANS RALLY to protest against Governor DeSantis’ new restrictive voting law. Marta Lavandier / AP

Cassidy O’Toner | Writer

February 6, 2022

The Florida GOP strikes again! Who are the victims? Minority and working-class voters. Who’s surprised? No one. 

GOVERNOR DESANTIS signed the new voting law into effect last spring. Wilfredo Lee / AP

Starting as the result of a rapid string of lawsuits, the trial regarding Florida’s new voting restrictions is now underway. After Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Republican Governor, signed a bill last spring under the pretense of preserving voting security, civil advocacy groups and activists were quick to challenge these changes. 

Of the many changes made, the one that stands out as the most alarming is the new requirement for voters to only submit their ballots during the day. When in the past, voters were able to cast ballots both during the day and at night, the removal of after-hours voting will make it increasingly difficult for lower-class voters to attend polling centers. While it’s unclear how exactly the change would oppose voter fraud, it is fairly apparent who would be prevented from voting. 

“They’re especially targeting the Cuban and Latino minorities in cities like Tampa and Jacksonville who are mainly immigrants,” senior Sage Brislen said. As she points out, the upper class can afford to accommodate these changes. But how can lower working class minorities work around this? Will they now be required to take off time from work just to stand in line to vote? Or maybe these new restrictions will just deter the lower class from voting altogether. 

Given that Florida officials were unable to find any sources of widespread voting fraud from the last presidential election, the new restrictions to voting laws have not appeared to stem from a need to protect voting integrity. With that said, considering the immense influx of voters that arose to oppose the re-election of former President Trump, it’s clear who Florida Republican officials are trying to restrict from voting in the future.

America is a free country meant to have free voting rights for all,” senior Cameron Trunec said in response to the Republican efforts. “It is unfair and unjust to have inequities in voting rights for U.S. citizens.”

Now, many organizations such as The League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matter Fund, and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans have backed the suit against the law. These groups have argued that they and other minority groups are being affected disproportionately to other voters. These and other groups are now arguing that these voting law alterations violate constitutional protections and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

While it is currently unclear whether the law will be removed or if it will proceed to oppress minority and working class voters, it is anticipated that the trial will draw out over the next few weeks. And despite the wishes of Florida Republican lawmakers, hopefully the integrity of our democratic system will emerge intact. 

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