Attorney Ryan Barack appeared in a virtual press conference with Congressman Charlie Crist, NAACP President Mutaqee Akbar, Commissioner David Arreola, Hillsbough County NAACP President Yvette Lewis, and two students from the University of Florida.
This group of distinguished individuals had the opportunity to discuss voter rights and Florida Governor DeSantis’ attack on freedom and equality. Their insights and unique perspectives represent the diverse voter base that SB 90 would ignore.
What Is SB 90?
Governor DeSantis signed Senate Bill 90 into effect on May 6, 2021. This bill, advertised as a sweeping security measure against fraudulent voting, is 48 pages of restrictions and unnecessary hoops voters must jump through to exercise their right to vote.
This comes in the wake of the 2020 election, which many right-wing voters and politicians felt was stolen due to voter fraud. Despite proudly proclaiming a successful election in Florida, DeSantis pushed for strict restrictions on voting – mail-in ballots in particular.
These changes to voting in Florida elections include the following:
- The period for ballot requests will be shorter
- An additional elector identifier will be required for all mail-in ballots
- Canvassing board members will be identified on the supervisor’s website after completing a logic and accuracy test
- Overvoting and undervoting report deadlines will be extended
- Prospective candidates will not be accepted if they have not been a member a part of a political party for less than 365 days before the election
- Independent candidates cannot run if they have been a registered member of another party within 365 days of the election
- The tabulation period for mail-in ballots will be extended
- In-person monitoring of all drop boxes will be required
- Voting hours for drop boxes will be restricted
- Supervised voting at assisted living facilities will not be subject to limitations on the number of ballots each voter can possess or designate to another person
- Removes voting rights from convicted felons who may have financial obligations related to their sentences regardless of their ability to pay
The people most affected by SB 90 will be working-class voters, poor Floridians, convicted felons, and people of color who often fall into one or all of these categories. While this bill does set voter rights back a least 50 years, it’s not the first voter suppression bill of its kind to pass through the local legislature.
Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, and several other state legislatures have passed bills that revoke the voting rights of marginalized people and/or make voting nearly impossible. While Governor DeSantis and others see SB 90 as a modest reformation of voting laws, it’s clear to many constituents what this bill really does: voter suppression.
Attorney Barack and the other members of the panel on voting rights agreed that this bill is harmful to the state and an attack on the freedom to vote.
“The Governor knows what he’s doing,” said Representative Crist, “Despite having no voter fraud issues, he’s abusing his power […].”
President of the Tallahassee branch of the NAACP, Mutaqee Akbar, stated, “It is clear as day that the Governor of Florida specifically and the Republican Party, in general, see the black vote as a threat.”
By restricting voting hours, the law excludes those who work from voting unless they take time off. It also attacks poor voters who may not have the means or transportation to make their voices heard.
Our own Attorney Ryan Barack has served the Clearwater community for most of his career and has been actively involved in voter protection efforts. He has been privy to the inner workings of voting and campaigning and observed testing to ensure accuracy in voting.
Speaking on his experience, Attorney Barack said, “Oftentimes, I am joined by Republican lawyers who see the same things I do […] our elections are open, free, and fair. Vote by mail works.”
A Call for Change
Attorney Barack urged Governor DeSantis to stop this attack on voting. He points out that there is merit in accessible voting and that establishing restrictions only silences voters and costs them needless tax money.
As a passionate legal advocate for those in need, Attorney Barack understands that no voice should be silenced. Oppression and discrimination are a direct threat to democracy and freedom. In Barack’s words,
“What Governor DeSantis is doing by lying and stating that there are problems that do not exist is damaging our democracy. The silliness needs to stop.”
Kwall Barack Nadeau PLLC is an employment law firm that focuses on advocacy and protecting the rights of those in the Tampa Bay area. For more information regarding workers’ rights and employment law, contact our firm.