TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday averted a nagging threat to his emerging campaign for president by signing into law a measure that makes it clear he doesn’t have to step down as current governor.
Florida’s quitting law change, which had sparked a ton of debate and legal theorizing in recent months, was part of a larger overarching election bill approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature. which drew scorn from Democrats and voting rights groups who called it “voter suppression.”
Two lawsuits were immediately filed in federal court challenging the law. One was filed by the Florida League of Women Voters while a coalition of several groups, including the Florida State branch of the NAACP, also filed a legal challenge. They took aim at several parts of the bill that imposed new restrictions and increased fines on groups that register new voters.
DeSantis signed the bill, SB 7050, the same day he filed paperwork and officially launched his presidential campaign.
One of the bill’s sponsors, state Sen. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills), had suggested that a change to the state’s resignation law was unnecessary. But by acting now, Florida Republicans have removed a potential legal challenge to DeSantis’ candidacy if he ends up becoming the GOP’s nominee for president.
Florida law requires anyone applying for a new position to submit an irrevocable letter of resignation before qualifying if the terms of the two positions overlap. The law had been amended twice in the past two decades, once to help the government of the day. Charlie Crist when he was a potential candidate for Vice President.
The new law clarifies that a person running for president and vice president is not required to comply with the resignation clause which remains intact for congressional candidates.
But the election bill covers much more than the state’s ‘resign to run’ law, which had prompted some voting rights groups to unsuccessfully ask DeSantis to veto the legislation. .
The long bill, for example, requires a new disclaimer on voter ID cards that explains that receipt of the card does not mean they are eligible to vote. Last year, the state arrested 20 people on voter fraud charges for voting illegally, but several of those charged said they thought they could vote because they got a card from their local election supervisor.
The measure also changes when mail-in ballots can be easily requested and requires election supervisors to discard mail-in ballots if two are placed in the same return envelope. It requires third-party voter registration groups to deliver a receipt to the requester and shortens the time it takes to deliver requests to election officials. There are restrictions on who can work for the groups, and fines are significantly increased for violations.
“Florida seems determined to make the act of voting unnerving,” Cecile Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said in a statement about the group’s retrial. “We are forced to look to the courts to ensure that nonpartisan community voter registration organizations, like the League, can continue their important voter registration work and ensure voters have equal and meaningful access to the ballot box. »