Tallahassee Democrat Op-Ed: Florida Legislature and Gov. DeSantis Are Trampling on Our Voting Rights

How Floridians Voting Rights Are Being Eroded

Common Cause Florida's Program Director Amy Keith wrote that recent election law cases are sending Florida further down a path of voter suppression.

The following is an opinion piece by Amy Keith, Common Cause Florida’s program director,  published in The Tallahassee Democrat on May 31, 2023:


If we want a democracy that works for everyone, we should be making it harder for money to influence politics, and easier for eligible Floridians to exercise their freedom to vote.

But that’s the opposite of what’s happening in Florida, with state lawmakers erecting a slew of unnecessary and confusing barriers for Floridians looking to participate in our democracy. All while weakening campaign finance laws and handing the governor an exemption to Florida’s resign-to-run law so he can run for president while remaining in office as governor.SB 7050, a discriminatory, anti-democratic law just signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, is the latest example of how our state leaders are getting it backwards.

This new law targets Florida’s community-based voter registration organizations by imposing unnecessary restrictions and crippling fines for simple missteps. Expect to see a dramatic decrease in the grassroots voter registration drives that help seniors, students, people with disabilities and Black and Latino voters exercise their right to vote.

This will also make it harder for any Floridian without a driver license or state ID to register to vote.

Why? Because you must have a Florida driver license or state ID to use Florida’s online voter registration system. With an expected decrease in voter registration drives from community groups and zero additional state funding allocated to expand voter outreach by elections offices, people will need to figure out how to print and mail their voter registration forms, register at a public library, or go to one of the select government offices that offer voter registration.

And there’s more. An insulting provision in the new law triggers $50,000 fines on voter registration organizations if noncitizens, including legal immigrants, Green Card holders, and those in the process of becoming citizens, even touch voter registration forms. These individuals have long helped eligible voters with language barriers in Florida’s diverse communities sign up to vote.

This is blatant discrimination against immigrants who are dedicated to helping our democracy work, even though they cannot vote themselves.

This bill also changes vote-by-mail rules for the third year in a row, providing less time before an election for voters to request a mail ballot and imposing new requirements to fill out an emergency affidavit if requesting one during early voting.

These seemingly small changes pile on more confusion for voters and add up to real barriers to the ballot box for Floridians who might want a different future for our state.

Voters who encounter problems can call or text the nonpartisan Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE. We answer questions from voters year-round.

What can you do? Register to vote if you’re not. Sign up to have a vote-by-mail ballot sent to your home for the 2024 election, and urge your friends, family and neighbors to do the same.

Together we’ll send a clear message that our voices won’t be ignored.