Going National: The Legal Battle Over The New Florida Election Law

By Robert Golomb, June 9 2021

Editor’s Note: This is syndicated columnist Robert Golomb’s latest column as published in the news and media outlet, The Published Reporter

Florida Senate Bill 90 contains three key provisions. The first strengthens ID requirements for absentee voters – a requirement that Republicans view as securing voting integrity, and the Democrats have denounced as a form of voter suppression. Photo credit: Fox News / YouTube.

TALLAHASSEE, FL – When on Thursday, May 6th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Florida Senate Bill 90 (FSB 90), a controversial voting security bill pushed through by GOP state senators on straight partisan lines, he was met throughout the state and nation with harsh criticism by Democrats and strong praise by Republicans.

The contentious law contains three key provisions. The first strengthens ID requirements for absentee voters – a requirement that Republicans view as securing voting integrity, and the Democrats have denounced as a form of voter suppression.

The second provision provides strict limitations on the use of voter harvesting – the practice of using unsupervised political operatives to collect absentee ballots from private homes or multifamily residences to be dropped off and counted at polling facilities. While Democrats view this practice as expanding voting rights, Republicans have countered that Democrats have used voter harvesting as a tool to illicitly increase their voter tally, leading to them allegedly stealing elections.

The third and most controversial portion of the new law calls for the banning of large sums of money sent by wealthy non-Floridians, for the purpose of influencing how the state runs and administers its elections. Known to be the main reason why this provision was seen as so vital by DeSantis and his fellow Republicans was the 2020 election cycle machinations of Facebook founder multi- billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Chan. Together, they funneled more than $16 million to Florida localities primarily run by Democrats, who reportedly used the money to assist the Democrats “get out the vote” programs.

While Trump’s win in Florida might have made the matter appear mute, Republicans claimed that the out of state money was underhanded “Zuckerbucks,” intended to steal statewide and local victories for Democrats, who countered that such outside funds make elections more “inclusive.’’

When Governor DeSantis signed the bill into law, it appeared that Republicans had won that argument. However, any celebration of that victory would have been premature.

Within days of the bill’s passing, Democrats called upon their allies in the National Organization of Women (NOW) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) along with several other left-wing pressure groups to assist them to wage both a public relations and court battle to overturn the law.

So, over the past four weeks Floridians have learned from their newspapers and local broadcast media that according to spokespeople from the NAACP the new law is racist and according to the spokespeople from NOW the bill is sexist.

And, at the same time, Florida courts have been overrun by a barrage of lawsuits filed by attorneys representing the NAACP, NOW and other leftist interest groups.

Republicans, however, have had allies of their own. Among the several conservative think tanks that have provided legal and other forms of support to Florida, as well as other states including Iowa, Texas and Georgia which have instituted similar election safeguards, has been the nationally known, non-profit organization, Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA).

When I spoke by phone two days ago from my NY office with Marco Island, Florida based FGA Research Analyst Hayden Dublois, I learned why and how FGA has so strongly supported FSB 90.

“We believe, as do most Americans, that the integrity of the election process is vital to our democratic system,” said Dublois. “That’s why FSB 90 is so important. From restricting the use of ballot harvesting, to requiring the most basic and easy to obtain identification for mail- in voters, to banning the large infusion of out of state political donations into election offices, {FSB 90} will make it easier to vote, but harder to cheat.”

Describing the research support that FGA had provided as FSB 90 successfully made it through the Florida legislative process, Dublois explained, “FGA has a team of election integrity experts, who provide accurate and vital research on election issues to lawmakers in Florida and their counterparts in other states.”

“This research we believe,” he elaborated, “helped legislators in Florida secure the passage of FSB 90, and has also been critical in over a dozen other states to help advance common- sense election reforms over the past several months.”

Still, as Dublois and I further discussed, and as earlier noted, with teams of attorneys from the NAACP, NOW and several other leftwing organizations presently preparing a series of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of FSB 90 in Florida courts, the law- or at least major portions of it- if the latter prevail over the attorneys representing Governor DeSantis and Florida Republican legislators, would be declared unconstitutional.

Nevertheless, Dublois told me that he remains optimistic that the FSB 90 will be upheld in the courts. “We [at FGA] are confident that the Florida’s election integrity law [FSB 90] is consistent with the U.S. Constitution, and all applicable federal and state laws,” Dublois stated. “The attempts,” he added, “by some groups to invalidate the law are unfounded, and hopefully the courts will concur with that assessment.”

Whether or not Dublois’ hope is realized, however, might take a very long time to be determined. As it stands today, of the many lawsuits filed to overturn FSB 90, Florida courts have not yet placed even one on the judicial calendar, and, as is not uncommon with pending lawsuits, the courts have remained totally silent pertaining to the anticipated length of time each individual case could take to litigate.

Making an informed prediction concerning a time frame for the multitude of judicial appeals of FSB 90 even more unfeasible is still another legal quagmire: each ruling on each of the many probable lawsuits, whether upholding or overturning FSB 90, could result in a future appeal, resulting in a seemingly endless series of further litigations.

This certainty of interminable appeals in Florida coupled with the enormous impact that the final court ruling will have on the election process in Florida as well as at least a dozen other states might eventually result, as has been suggested by several leading legal scholars, in the question of the constitutionality of FSB 90 being submitted to, heard and ultimately decided by the United States Supreme Court.

Stay tuned – probably for a very long time.

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