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Florida lawmakers, officials resist testifying about election law

On May 6, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a hotly-contested elections bill into law.

DeSantis signed Senate Bill 90, adopted a week earlier by state lawmakers in a partisan vote, during a rally sponsored by Club 45 USA, a Donald Trump fan club, and covered live as an exclusive on “Fox & Friends.”

“Me signing this bill says: ‘Florida, your vote counts, your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency and this is a great place for democracy,’” DeSantis said acknowledging, again, that Florida’s 2020 election was the nation’s “gold standard” in electoral professionalism and security.

Much has changed since, including, going on record to discuss how the legally-embattled SB 90 was crafted and adopted despite overwhelming citizen opposition.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office has petitioned U.S. District Judge Mark Walker to block subpoenas issued by plaintiffs seeking to deposition seven Republican lawmakers and an unnamed Governor’s Office staffer about their roles in drafting the controversial law.

Walker gave lawmakers’ attorneys and the Governor’s Office until this week to respond to the subpoenas.

Subpoenaed are Sens. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala; Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton; Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg; Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota; and Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples. House Reps. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, and Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, are also sought for questioning under oath.

DeSantis is not directly subpoenaed, but plaintiffs want to depose a Governor’s Office staffer who participated in “drafting, negotiating and passing” SB 90.

The Governor’s Office motion to quash claims if granted, the subpoenas would have unforeseen ramifications for legislative and executive privilege.

“At bottom, the Governor’s Office plays an integral part in the legislative process; the Governor’s Office also helps set and execute policy for the state,” the motion said. “Subjecting deliberations between the Governor’s Office and his staff to third-party depositions seems an end-run around the legislative immunity that applies to bills that he chooses to sign.

“And, as a practical matter,” it continues, “allowing discovery here might have a chilling effect on future occupants of the Governor’s Office as they grapple with policy choices while weighing the burdens of litigation that stretches the office’s resources.”

SB 90 adds more identification requirements for those requesting absentee ballots; requires voters to request an absentee ballot for each election, every two years; limits who can collect and drop off ballots to prevent “ballot harvesting”; and expands the presence of partisan observers during the vote-counting process.

The bill limits the use of drop boxes but doesn’t ban them and prohibits outside groups from providing items “with the intent to influence” voters within a 150-foot radius of a polling location

SB 90 was fiercely opposed by Democrats, voting rights groups and 66 of 67 county elections supervisors.

Moments after DeSantis signed SB 90 on Fox News, the League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF) filed a 69-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee and the NAACP LDF filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Orlando.

LWVF’s suit, joined by Black Voters Matter Fund, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and several individual voters, claims SB 90 has “a disproportionate impact on elderly voters, voters with disabilities, students and communities of color.”

The NAACP LDF-led lawsuit, joined by Black Voters Matter Fund, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and several individual voters, claims SB 90 violates the federal Voting Rights Act, the 1st and 14th amendments and is – by definition – voter suppression.

Other legal actions against SB 90 have been filed by the Florida chapters of the ACLU and All Voting is Local and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

This article was originally posted on Florida lawmakers, officials resist testifying about election law

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