Ron DeSantis’s Voter Suppression Machine Is Working

It’s possible that national funders and civic organizations
will send resources into the state just before election deadlines and help
close the gap, but Floridians I’ve spoken to say that funders seem to be waiting
to see how the litigation over S.B. 7050 plays out. As of May 2024, just 3,860 Floridians
had been registered by third-party voter registration groups this year,
compared to roughly 60,000 registered by third-party groups in 2020.

Looking further back, it’s clear that this is part of
a larger trend that explains how Florida became a key testing ground for
authoritarian policies, with profound implications for national politics. In 2008,
when the Obama campaign built its outposts across the country, including with a
large presence in Florida, roughly 420,000 Floridians were registered by
third-party groups; in 2012, over 350,000 Floridians were. Those registrations
likely made the difference: In 2012, Obama won the state by fewer than 75,000
votes. Those numbers show what could have been. When I reported my book on
state-level organizing, many Florida Democrats and progressives told me that
the turning point for Florida, the true missed opportunity, was when the Obama
campaign packed up after its wins, failing to transform its networks of staff
and volunteers into a durable progressive infrastructure. Instead, Florida’s
under-resourced progressives were largely left to fend for themselves.   

Two feedback loops have accelerated since then. Republicans
hold a supermajority in the Florida legislature, enabling them to pass increasingly
authoritarian measures. That’s not because most Floridians hold extreme
right-wing positions—up until 2020, registered Democrats outnumbered registered
Republicans in the state—but because Republicans have gerrymandered the legislature
for decades. With their power in the state legislature, Florida Republicans have
been able to entrench their control, including through novel forms of voter
suppression. For example, after Floridians voted by a wide margin to support a
2018 ballot initiative that would have restored voting rights to many
Floridians with felony records, the state legislature passed a law that required
those Floridians to pay all
fees and fines
related to their case in order to be able to vote, which
disenfranchised roughly 800,000
who otherwise would have had their rights restored. In their report on the
law, Lawrence Mower and Langston Taylor of the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times
wrote, “Like
the poll taxes of the Jim Crow era
, the restrictions have especially hit
Black Floridians, who make up a disproportionate share of felons and register
overwhelmingly as Democrats.” 

#Ron #DeSantiss #Voter #Suppression #Machine #Working

Leave a Comment