One of the most vocal opponents of DeSantis’ voting law, early in May, Charlie Crist became the first Democrat to officially announce his run against the Republican incumbent next year.
Despite previously touting how smoothly his state’s elections ran last fall, on May 6, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a stack of new voting restrictions that the Republican incumbent hailed as necessary to shore up public faith in elections.
The measure (SB 90), which took effect upon DeSantis’ signature, is set to, among other restrictions:
- Limit the use of secure ballot drop boxes to a county’s early voting hours of operation.
- Require voters to renew their standing request for a vote-by-mail ballot every calendar year (instead of every two, as under current law).
- Limit who can deliver a vote-by-mail ballot on a voter’s behalf.
- Ban elections supervisors from mailing a ballot to a person without a specific request.
- Expand a no-solicitation zone around polling places, and prohibit handing out items, including food and drink, with the intent to sway a voter’s opinion.
DeSantis, who called last year’s elections “the most transparent and efficient anywhere in the country,” still justified the measure —which some opponents have called “Jim Crow 2.0”— as necessary to shore up public faith in elections.
Critics, however, see another motive behind the new legislation, and have accused DeSantis of trying to make it harder to vote, particularly for people of color.
Crist’s Plan for Voters
One of the most vocal opponents of DeSantis’ voting law is Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, who early in May became the first Democrat to officially announce he will run against DeSantis next year.
A member of the US House, Crist is actively campaigning to reverse the new voting measures and provide proposals to expand voting access.
“Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Republican colleagues in Tallahassee care more about their political futures than our democracy and your right to vote,” Crist wrote in an op-ed for the Tampa Bay Times.
Calling the “Republican attack” on democracy an emergency, Crist went on to delineate his platform on election reform. The Democrat’s plan includes reversing DeSantis’ limits on mail ballots. He added that if the Legislature refused to act, he would declare a state of emergency and make the changes himself.
Crist also wants Florida to automatically register to vote anyone who seeks a driver’s license or conducts business with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. He would move the Florida primary from August to the spring, when turnout would be higher, and name Election Day a state holiday, giving voters a better opportunity to cast their ballots, especially those for whom taking time off to vote on a weekday will affect them financially.
Additionally, Crist says he would make it easier for the governor and Cabinet to restore felons’ rights, as well as “demand that lawmakers allow felons who have completed their sentences to register to vote as Amendment 4 intended while continuing to pay their fines, court fees and restitution.”
A Vision for Florida’s Future
Crist, 64, was Florida governor from 2007 to 2011. In 2014 he ran for governor as a Democrat, but lost to Rick Scott, who is now a US senator. During his announcement for the 2022 gubernatorial race, Crist made known his vision for “a Florida for all” with a promise to not only make it easier to vote, but to expand Medicaid, respect constitutional amendments approved by voters, and invest in the state’s crumbling infrastructure, among other plans for the Sunshine State’s future.