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Community leaders speak out against Florida's new, controversial voting restrictions law

SB 90 became law upon its signing by Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 6.
Credit: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
An election worker places a vote-by-mail ballot into an official ballot drop box outside of an early voting site, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Miami. Florida begins in-person early voting in much of the state Monday. With its 29 electoral votes, Florida is crucial to both candidates in order to win the White House.

On May 6, with the flick of his pen, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a controversial voting restriction bill into law.

Now, community leaders in Tampa Bay are coming together to voice their concerns and qualms with the bill they say is a voter suppression measure. 

The GOP-backed legislation, which the governor has been a vocal supporter of, places new limits on ballot drop boxes, among other things. 

Eliseo Santana, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC Pinellas) started Tuesday's press conference calling for people to stand up and let their representatives know that it is not their job to "impose their will upon us."

“We will work to make sure that every citizen is able to cast a vote and therefore have a true democracy representative," he added. 

Santana also read out a unified statement on behalf of all those in attendance: 

“We will not stand idle while the Constitutional rights guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment and in the Constitution of the United States are being selectively stripped away from Latinos and African Americans and people of color. The purpose of these laws appears to be to rig the system to make sure that making it illegal for Americans to even protest the injustice of this particular bill,” he read in part.

Dr. Linsey Grove, who serves as the president of the League of Women Voters called SB90 "unconstitutional" and "un-American" since her organization finds it makes it harder for elderly voters, voters with disabilities, students, and people of color to vote.

The League of Women Voters was one of three organizations that filed a lawsuit challenging the bill just minutes after the governor signed it into law. 

Allendale United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Andy Oliver had more direct and strong words for Gov. DeSantis Tuesday. 

“Here’s one thing I know, Ron’s day of reckoning is coming. The Republicans in Tallahassee, those who pass oppressive legislation like this ‘because we can’ type of legislation—this day of reckoning is coming," he said.

Oliver also called for accountability when it comes to Florida's leaders and took aim at DeSantis' signing of the bill on Fox and Friends calling it, his "audition for vice president in 2024."

The new law changes Florida's vote-by-mail system. Some of those changes include restricting dropbox use to a county's early voting hours rather than allowing ballots to be dropped off 24/7, making in-person monitoring of all dropbox locations mandatory as well as a whole host of other security measures for vote-by-mail. Voters would also be required to submit vote-by-mail requests every election cycle instead of every two cycles.

Another change would expand the no-solicitation zone around polling places to 150 feet. That means no one within that distance could attempt to solicit votes or distribute items like water. 

There will also be a new uniform statewide voter registration application that would highlight whether an applicant has been convicted of a felony and has had their voting rights restored. And, signature verification for voters, meaning voters must have a "wet signature" that they physically signed on paper on file.

You can watch all the speakers from Tuesday's press conference in the video below: 

RELATED: League of Women Voters, Black Voters Matter sue all 67 Florida counties over new election restrictions

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